Russia Banned from Participating in International Sporting Events for Four Years

For the past few weeks, there have been many controversies about the latest Russian ban to participate in major international sports events.  Russia was banned for four years after its athletes were found to have used banned drugs. 

This means that Russia will not be allowed to participate in the 2020 summer Olympics in Japan, and the 2022 Football World Cup, which will be held in Qatar. The Russian state-owned Tass News Agency first released the news which were later confirmed by the World Anti-Doping Agency.

Can Russians Participate Under Neutral Flag?

 While the Russian National Anthem and the flag can’t be present at international events, athletes can participate in sports under a neutral flag. This gives hope to Russian fans, especially those who are planning to place bets for their countrymen on betting sites such as  But this can only happen if the athletes are free of association with the doping scandal.  In the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, 168 Russian athletes competed under a neutral flag.

What is the Duration of the Ban?

World Anti-Doping Agency executive members recommended a 4-year suspension in November 2019. In January 2019, the Russian Anti-Doping Agency handed over laboratory results to the World Anti-Doping Agency as part of a deal to cancel the suspension of the RUSADA.  But World Anti-Doping Agency claimed that Russia had tampered with the evidence,

World Anti-Doping Agency president Mr. Craig Reedie said that for too long, Russia has detached itself from clean sporting activities. He added that Russia was given every opportunity to correct her mistakes for the benefit of her athletes and chose instead to repeat the same mistakes. 

The Russian Anti-Doping Agency was given twenty-one days to dispute or accept the sanction. If Russia appeals, the case will move to Arbitration. 

The decision to ban Russia from participating in international sporting events attracted a response from the United States Anti-Doping Agency Chief Executive Officer Travis Tygart. In a statement, Travis said that to allow Russia to escape another ban in the future, the rule of law and the integrity of sports must hold.

Other stakeholders also criticized WADA, some saying that its punishment has not been strong enough. Most of them were of the opinion that Russian athletes should completely be banned from participating in international sports even under a neutral flag. 

How Did Russia Get There?

Russia has been in the spotlight amid a series of doping scandals that date back to 2012 in the London Olympics. Most notably, the World Anti-Doping Agency investigation found in 2016 that about one thousand Russian athletes were involved in state-sponsored doping. In yet another investigation, it was discovered that during the 2014 Olympics held in Sochi, Russian agents assisted athletes to swap dirty urine sample for clean ones through a hole in the wall.

As a result of Russia’s doping violations, the World Anti-Doping Agency deemed RUSADA to be non-compliant and suspended the Russian Anti Doping Agency. Russia was later granted conditional reinstatement and they never stopped to deceive WADA.

Later, when WADA requested drug testing information from a laboratory in Moscow, it was found that the data had already been altered in an attempt to hamper the work of World Anti-Doping Agency Investigators. 

Russia tampered with the data to shift blame away from the government and direct it to Grigory Rodchenkov, who, at one point, used to oversee the Russian doping program before becoming a whistleblower.

This 2019 incident, combined with other previous doping violations, led to the punishment that was endorsed by World Anti-Doping Agency 12 Executive Committee on 9th December 2019. In addition to the Olympic games, Russia was banned from participating in other major international events, including world championships sanctioned by a signatory to the World Anti-Doping Agency’s code of ethics.

In a painful statement, Rodchenkov said that many genuine athletes have failed to achieve their dreams because of the Russian cheaters. He added that there is a need to ensure that justice is practiced in the world of sports. 

The Russian ban does not only apply to the athletes, but also to officials and representatives who will not be allowed to attend any of the international events. WADA insisted that Russia will not be allowed to bid for the Olympics and paralympic games scheduled to be held in 2032, irrespective of whether the bid will take place during or after the 4-years ban.