On Thursday, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) decided to uphold its suspension of Russia's anti-doping body, RUSADA, calling into question Russia's eligibility to compete in the 2018 Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea.
WADA's decision comes ahead of a meeting of the International Olympic Committee early next month in which the fate of Russia will ultimately be decided.
#BREAKING World Anti-Doping Agency maintains its suspension of Russia, raising the spectre of a possible ban from F… https://t.co/dNwNdBZ8K4— AFP news agency (@AFP news agency)1510805852.0
The ban stems from doping allegations dating back to 2011 and going through 2015. Russia, a traditional Olympics powerhouse, hosted the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, and led the medal count before the alleged state-sanctioned doping was discovered.
And while the IOC decided not to ban Russia from the 2016 Summer games in Rio de Janeiro, it did leave the decision up to each individual sport.
WADA president Craig Reedie maintained that the governing body doesn't have the final say about the games, saying, "We do not have the right to decide who takes part in international competition. The major event-holder has that right."
He added: "We regret that RUSADA is not yet compliant. Technically, they have improved hugely since compliance was removed. But having set a road map for compliance, there are two issues that have to be fulfilled and we can't walk away from the commitments we have from that road map."
One of those issues is that RUSADA must "publicly accept the reported outcomes" of the investigation, which they have not yet done.
Scene: WADA says RUSADA must accept McLaren findings re: systemic doping to be reinstated. RUSSIA, for two years:… https://t.co/ggJQ9ag11q— Rachel Axon (@Rachel Axon)1510755980.0
And while Thursday's WADA decision doesn't necessarily mean that Russia won't be able to compete in South Korea, it still could have undesirable consequences.
For Russian Olympic hopefuls, there could be an alternative that would allow them to compete should the IOC uphold the ban. As in years past, Russian athletes would be able to compete under the neutral banner of the Olympic flag.
Needless to say, Russia isn't happy with WADA's decision.
WADA Foundation Board approves the recommendation by the Independent Compliance Review Committee that RUSADA remain non-compliant.— WADA (@WADA)1510804479.0
"We accept the fact our national anti-doping system has failed... (but) we absolutely deny a state-sponsored doping system," Russian Olympic Committee president Alexander Zhukov told reporters in Seoul.
Russian Sports Minister Pavel Kolobkov added: "We are ready to go forward and work openly in the full standards of WADA. Please let us be compliant."
Many agreed that perhaps the WADA was being too hard on Russia:
As expected Russia remains frozen out by WADA but is the Mclaren report now hindering them more than helping? All e… https://t.co/UPXkKlANIR— Steve Scott (@Steve Scott)1510822269.0
Russia demonized for doping -- and rightly so. But it goes on everywhere. https://t.co/QcLlPmzqmn— Nancy Armour (@Nancy Armour)1510754488.0
Russia risks missing a second Paralympics as a result of today's WADA ruling. International Paralympic Committee te… https://t.co/tCfdKCHKAu— James Ellingworth (@James Ellingworth)1510828887.0
Now we wait for the IOC's decision:
Meaning: Russian anti-doping agency is still suspended. IOC to decide Dec 5-6 if and/or what to do re: Russia participation in 2018 Olympics— Sara Germano (@Sara Germano)1510807174.0
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