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Russian doping scandal: Athletes call for blanket Olympic ban

by ZwemZa on December 9th, 2019

Members of the World Anti-Doping Agency’s Athletes Committee have demanded a blanket ban on Russian athletes competing at the Olympics.

Wada holds a key meeting in Lausanne on Monday to discuss sanctions.

Russia was declared non-compliant for manipulating laboratory data handed over to investigators.

A key panel has recommended a raft of measures – including banning Russia from hosting and competing in major international events.

The International Olympic Committee has said it would would be willing to allow Russian athletes who can prove they are clean to compete under a neutral flag, as at last year’s Pyeongchang Winter Olympics.

But a majority of the members of Wada’s influential athletes’ committee say they “strongly believe the only appropriate response is a complete ban on Russian participation”, ruling them out of the Tokyo Games next year, and Beijing 2022.

In a joint statement, nine members of the 17-strong group, including chair Beckie Scott, and British former Paralympian Vicki Aggar, said such a step was “the only meaningful sanction.”

“We maintain that the fraud, manipulation and deception revealed to date will only be encouraged and perpetuated with a lesser response” they added.

“Until these critical abuses of integrity in sport are confronted with courage and a resolute commitment to protect athletes and clean sport, they will continue, and the sports we love remain tarnished.

“To date, the Russian doping saga has dominated three Olympic and Paralympic Games, with a fourth on the horizon. Russia’s ongoing and intentional acts of deception, fraud and corruption have made a mockery not only those who play by the rules, but those who create and safeguard them.”

Russia had to hand over data to Wada as a condition of its controversial reinstatement in 2018 after a three-year suspension for its vast state-sponsored doping scandal.

With the US and UK Anti-Doping Agencies also calling on Wada’s executive committee to issue the “strongest possible sanctions”, Russia now faces the threat of being thrown into the international sporting wilderness, but is expected to appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

In Russia, there is scepticism with one chat show claiming Wada’s accusations were invented by Europeans to eliminate a powerful sporting rival. A documentary claimed the original whistleblower was responsible, accessing the electronic database remotely from the US to alter it.

Dan Roan | BBC sports editor

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