Athletes to discuss blanket ban for Russia over fears an appeal will be successful

Jack de Menezes
Russia is facing fresh calls to receive a ban for their anti-doping violations: Getty

A blanket ban of Russian sports stars will be discussed this evening when the World Anti-Doping Agency’s athletes’ representatives raise their concerns regarding the latest developments in sport’s biggest doping scandal.

Russia has seen its Moscow laboratory declassified for the second time in four years after the Russian Anti-Doping Agency [Rusada] was found to have tampered with anti-doping data as recently as this year, in an effort to cover up positive drugs tests.

The Wada ruling means that Russia will not be allowed to be represented at major sporting events for the next four years, though they are very likely to appeal the ban to the Court of Arbitration for Sport and there are growing fears that it will be successful.

Under the current terms, Russian athletes who can prove they are clean and untarnished by the doping scandal can compete at the 2020 Olympics as neutral athletes, similar to the ‘Olympic Athletes from Russia’ that featured at last year’s Winter Games in Pyeongchang.

Because of this, the Wada athletes committee will hold a conference call on Wednesday to discuss the possibility of its own appeal against the ban in order to try and increase it to a complete blanket ban, which would prevent any Russian athletes from competing no matter what banner they are performing under.

“We will have a conversation about an appeal for a stronger sanction with members of the Wada Athletes Committee. We have a conference call, that will be on the agenda and it will be brought up for discussion for sure,” Victoria Aggar, head of the British Athletes Commission who are on the Wada athletes committee, told The Times.

“Our reasoning for a blanket ban is that although a four-year sanction may sound enough it’s pretty weak in reality.

“On the face of it, it looks as though Wada have made a tough decision but Russian athletes can still compete in world championships, the Olympics and the football World Cup, just not under the Russian flag.

“It doesn’t feel that the punishment was strong enough for the crime.”

Aggar fears that Wada’s decision to change the roadmap to compliance when reinstating Russia last year will help a successful appeal bid, with scrutiny surrounding whether the anti-doping body has the jurisdiction over Russian government officials and not just Rusada.

“What we are hearing is because Wada changed the roadmap for Russia’s reinstatement last year there is a high chance of a successful appeal to overturn the ban, which is really depressing.

“Wada have recently gone into Rusada and the anti-doping agency itself is compliant and has fulfilled the criteria that have been set.

“The concern is CAS will decide Wada don’t have the power to make it non-compliant based on the Moscow lab data. Wada have changed the roadmap and have ended up twisting their knickers around their neck, so to speak.”

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