WADA: Russia should not assume doping sanctions will be lifted

WADA president Witold Banka says Russia should not assume sanctions for running a state-sponsored doping programme will be automatically lifted by the end of the year.

Witold Banka, president of WADA, at a press conference in Beijing, China, on Wednesday.   -  Getty Images

Russia should not assume sanctions imposed for running a state-sponsored doping programme will be automatically lifted when its suspension is completed at the end of year, the head of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) warned on Wednesday.

For the third consecutive Olympics, Russian athletes will participate as neutrals at the Beijing Winter Games, barred from competing under their own flag, and WADA president Witold Banka did not rule out the possibility of that ban continuing.

Russia’s anti-doping agency (RUSADA) had been ruled non-compliant by WADA in 2015 after a report found evidence of mass doping in Russian athletics. WADA imposed sanctions on Russia in December 2019 that, among other things, barred Russia from flying its flag at major sporting events for a four-year period.

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After a Russia appeal, the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) halved the suspension which is set to end on December 16.

“I think it is too early to say I am happy and the chapter is closed. Let’s wait, this is an ongoing process,” Banka told Reuters, following pre-Games press briefing in Beijing. “The rules are clear, RUSADA needs to follow the rules, the requirements and standards.

‘Not the end of the chapter’

“So far they are doing it, we are in close contact with them. They strictly follow our rules but as I said this is an ongoing process, this is not the end of this chapter. At the end of the year we will need to say yes, RUSADA can be compliant. It is not the end of this process, it is too early to say definitely that they are compliant.”

The Russian delegation in Beijing, which includes 212 athletes, cannot display the country’s tricolour flag or any national emblems or symbols or have their national anthem played during medal presentations. Their uniforms bear the logo of the Russian Olympic Committee - three flames in the colours of the national flag with the Olympic rings below them - instead of Russia’s flag.

Russia has acknowledged some shortcomings in its implementation of anti-doping rules but denies running a state-sponsored doping programme, something WADA has insisted it must do to be ruled compliant.

“RUSADA needs to follow the rules,” reiterated Banka. “Now it is an ongoing process and too early to say there will be concrete results but the rules are very strict. If RUSADA wants to be compliant it has to follow the rules from the CAS decision and of course our standards. We are in touch with RUSADA and let’s wait for the end of the year.”

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