Ban-affected Moscow blames ‘anti-Russian hysteria’

Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev.   | Photo Credit: Dmitry Astakhov

Russia reeled from a four-year ban from global sports on Monday, with athletes in shock and the government quick to blame “anti-Russian hysteria”.

The head of Russia’s anti-doping agency, meanwhile, said his country had “no chance” of winning an appeal against the ban, which he described as a tragedy for clean athletes.

The World Anti-Doping Agency on Monday banned Russia from international competitions, including the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. It accused Russia of falsifying laboratory doping data handed over earlier this year to investigators probing claims of widespread doping.

An official linked to WADA said Russia can participate in qualifying for the 2022 World Cup. “Because the qualifiers don’t decide the world champion, Russia can take part. The decision applies to the World Cup tournament because it decides the world champion,” said Jonathan Taylor, chairman of WADA’s Compliance Review Committee.

Russia can appeal the ban in the Court of Arbitration for Sport, but the head of its RUSADA anti-doping agency, Yuri Ganus, said he doubted it would be successful.

While admitting there have been instances of doping, Russian officials say the country is no worse than any other. Some have accused other countries of pursuing the ban to remove Russian athletes from competition.

Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said on Monday those involved in doping had already been punished. “This is the continuation of this anti-Russian hysteria that has already become chronic,” Medvedev told Russian news agencies.

Many in Russian sports agreed.

Political, not sports

“The decision that was taken today was political and not simply about sports,” the head of Russia’s Biathlon Union, Vladimir Drachev, told Russia-24 State television.

“I have no words... how can you mock athletes who have been preparing all their lives for this?” said Aslanbek Khushtov, who won wrestling gold at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. “Unfortunately this is politics, I don’t smell any sport here,” he told State news agency TASS.

The heads of several Russian sports federations said Monday they were preparing to send athletes to the 2020 Olympics under a neutral flag. The country’s athletes “must go to the Olympics whatever the situation,” said the head of Russia’s swimming federation, Vladimir Salnikov. “Of course we’d prefer that our athletes participate under the Russian flag and hear their national anthem. But the circumstances may be different... (and) no one has the right to deprive innocent athletes of their dreams,” he told state news agency RIA Novosti.

Related Topics
This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor

Printable version | Apr 17, 2021 7:19:15 AM |

Next Story