Russia facing new Olympics ban over doping scandal

26 November 2019, 01:18 | Updated: 26 November 2019, 03:02

Russia should be banned from the Olympics and all world championships for the next four years because of a continued failure to cooperate fully with a doping investigation.

That is the recommendation of the independent Compliance Review Committee (CRC) of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA).

If confirmed, it would mean Russia being excluded from next year's Tokyo Olympics and the 2022 Beijing Winter Games.

Russia officials, including the president, secretary-general, CEO and any member of the executive board of the Russian Olympic Committee, would also not be welcome at any major sporting event.

The CRC report said the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA) should be declared non-compliant after an investigation found data handed over from a tainted Moscow laboratory was neither complete nor fully authentic.

It is the latest twist in the saga of state-sponsored doping, involving coaches, doctors and officials stretching back to before the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics.

It is said to have rivalled that of the notorious East German drug programme of the 1960s, 70s and 80s in terms of its size and complexity.

Although there had been rumours of a cover-up for years, the true scale of the Russian scheme was revealed when Grigory Rodchenkov, the chemist who spent 10 years as Russia's anti-doping lab chief, fled to the US in 2015, saying he feared for his life because of what he knew.

He had been key to carrying out the cheating in Sochi, including the use of steroids and other banned substances. That led to bans for 14 Russian athletes, with six being stripped of medals.

The evidence of Mr Rodchenkov, who remains in witness protection and has been given a new identity, led to Russia's partial ban from the 2016 Olympics in Rio and a total ban from the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

It was also the catalyst for WADA setting up the independent McLaren report into Russian doping.

Publishing its findings in 2016 it concluded that it was "beyond a reasonable doubt" that Russia's ministry of sport, as well as the Federal Security Service (FSB), and the WADA-accredited laboratory in Moscow had "operated for the protection of doped Russian athletes".

Despite subsequent claims by the Russian authorities to have cleaned up sport in the country and to have sacked corrupt officials and those found guilty of cheating, the latest CRC report says data on more than 2,200 samples supplied by RUSADA had been tampered with.

Its recommendation of new sanctions will be put to a meeting of WADA's executive committee in Paris on 9 December.

A ban would not necessarily exclude Russian athletes from taking part in Tokyo and Beijing.

However, they would have to compete under the 'neutral' Olympic flag and demonstrate they are clean with no involvement in doping.