The Court of Arbitration for Sport has upheld Russia’s ban from all international sport due to the country’s doping failures, but have cut the four-year sanction in half to two years.
The ban will therefore still force Russian athletes to compete under a neutral flag – and without the country’s national anthem – at the Tokyo Olympics in the summer and the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing.
The verdict also means Russia’s football team will not be able to compete at the FIFA World Cup in two years’ time in Qatar, more than 24 months after they hosted the last tournament.
However, the ban states Russia are not prohibited from partaking in qualifying events, meaning Stanislav Cherchesov’s side could – and probably will – still face World Cup qualifying matches even though they are banned from competing in the tournament itself.
The country was banned from the world’s top sporting events and from hosting international competitions including the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics for four years last December for tampering with doping tests.
The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) executive committee acted after concluding that Moscow had planted fake evidence and deleted files linked to positive doping tests in laboratory data that could have helped identify drug cheats.
‘For too long, Russian doping has detracted from clean sport,’ said WADA president Craig Reedie at the time, adding that the actions of Russia – who deny the allegations – had demanded a robust response.
RUSADA had 21 days following the ruling to appeal the four-year package of sanctions and did so shortly after Christmas.
The matter was then referred to CAS, with hearings taking place in Lausanne, Switzerland, last month between November 2 and November 5, and now the decision has been made to uphold but reduce the ban.
Last year’s ruling followed a judgement in September 2019 when Russia’s Anti Doping Agency (RUSADA) was declared non-compliant for manipulating laboratory data of drug tests handed over to WADA investigators in January 2019.
The latest news comes after Russian whistleblower Grigory Rodchenkov said earlier this year that the country ‘has cheated for decades’.