Athletes and anti-doping groups have reacted with outrage after a four-year ban on Russia for state-sponsored doping offences was halved – and its athletes were told they could compete at next year’s Olympics and the 2022 World Cup wearing red shirts with the word Russia on them.
The British Olympic gold medal cyclist Callum Skinner said the ruling, by the court of arbitration for sport, meant “the biggest doping scandal in history had gone unpunished”.
The ruling was also greeted with astonishment by the US anti-doping agency head, Travis Tygart, who called it a “weak, watered-down outcome” for “robbing sport and clean athletes”. Tygart said: “To once again escape a meaningful consequence proportional to the crimes, much less a real ban, is a catastrophic blow to clean athletes, the integrity of sport, and the rule of law.”
Under the ruling, official Russia teams will still be barred from next summer’s Olympics in Tokyo, as well as the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing and the 2022 World Cup in Qatar as a punishment for covering up a massive state-sponsored doping programme. Russia will also be unable to host world championship events for two years and its anthem and flag will be banned too.
Russian athletes will be able to compete as neutrals in international competition – either as individuals and in national teams – so long as they are not banned for doping offences. They will also be allowed to wear red kits with the word Russia on it, providing “neutral athlete” appears as well. In effect this meant, said Skinner, that “Russia hasn’t been banned, they’ve been rebranded as Neutral Athletes from Russia”.Read The Guardian