Russia facing sporting wilderness after WADA recommends four-year ban

By Ben Morse, for CNN

(CNN)Russia’s ability to host Euro 2020 football matches and its participation in the 2022 FIFA World Cup and the 2020 Olympics could be under threat after the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) recommended a four-year ban for non-compliance in doping investigations.

WADA’s compliance review committee (CRC) suggested several sanctions because of the Russian Anti-Doping Agency’s (RUSADA) failure to cooperate fully during probes into Russian sport.

The potential punishments relate to inconsistencies in data retrieved by WADA in January 2019 from the Moscow lab at the center of the 2016 McLaren report, which uncovered a widespread and sophisticated state-sponsored sports doping network.
One of the recommended penalties is to remove Russia’s right to host a major event unless it’s “legally and practically impossible” to remove it.

St. Petersburg is scheduled to host three Euro 2020 group games and a quarter final.
The CRC also suggests a four-year sanction from the Youth Olympic Games, the summer and winter Olympic Games and Paralympic Games, and any other event under the umbrella of a “Major Event Organization.”
This could mean a ban from next year’s Euros and the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

WADA’s executive committee will meet on December 9 in Paris to discuss the recommendations. If accepted, RUSADA will have 21 days to accept the decision or send the matter to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).

Yury Ganus, the head of RUSADA, called on the public to disregard reports of a possible ban.
“I urge you to wait for the decision of the WADA executive committee that will be announced on Dec. 9 and not to respond to various publications, whether they be the New York Times or other sources,” Ganus was quoted as saying by Russian state news agency TASS.

“There is no need for any illusions, the sanctions will be serious enough, we must prepare for serious trials.”
RUSADA was initially deemed non-compliant after the publication of the McLaren report in 2016.
Commissioned by WADA, the report found the Russian state conspired with athletes and sporting officials to undertake a doping program that was unprecedented in its scale and ambition.

The findings led to sanctions including no Russian team being present at the 2018 Winter Olympic Games in Pyeongchang, with certain eligible athletes being forced to compete under a neutral flag.
The CRC suggested Russian athletes wishing to compete as neutrals in major events during the four-year ban can only do so if they are able to demonstrate they are not implicated in any non-compliance, or “are not mentioned in incriminating circumstances in the McLaren reports.”

It has also been recommended that RUSADA repay all of WADA’s costs in this case during 2019 and pay an additional fine.
Kremlin spokesperson Dimitry Peskov told reporters at a news conference Monday that Russian sporting authorities have “given all the necessary answers” to WADA and will continue to interact with the agency.

“First, we need to wait for the concrete decision,” Peskov said, according to TASS. “Our sporting authorities are in direct contact and will continue to be in contact with the international sports community and with WADA. There is not a decision yet.”
The International Olympic Committee “condemned” those who manipulated the data in the Moscow lab but notes that the CRC’s report does not indicate any wrongdoing by the “sports movement.”

“The IOC welcomes the opportunity offered by WADA to Russian athletes to compete,” it said in a statement. “The IOC emphasizes that any sanctions should follow the rules of natural justice and respect human rights.
“Therefore, the IOC stresses that the guilty should be punished in the toughest way possible because of the seriousness of this infringement and thus welcomes the sanctions for the Russian authorities responsible.

“However, given the seriousness of the manipulation, we strongly urge WADA to take further action.”
UEFA declined to comment on WADA’s recommendations and how it might affect Russia’s ability to host EURO 2020 games.

FIFA “will await the final considerations” of the WADA committee before making any decisions, it told CNN Sport in a statement.