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No Russian flag, anthem or country name allowed for Tokyo 2021, world championships

The Court of Arbitration for Sport has come to a decision in the Russian state-sponsored doping case

The Associated Press reported on Thursday that the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) has made a decision in the Russian state-sponsored doping case. Moving forward for the next two years, Russia will not be permitted to use its name, flag or anthem at the Olympics or any world championship events. News of this doping scandal first broke following the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, and the case has been ongoing ever since. The CAS ruling is half of the four-year term that the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) called for on Russian athletes, although it still means Russians will be referred to as “neutral athletes” at Tokyo 2021 and the 2022 World Athletics Championships. 

In another AP report, Mikhail Bukhanov, acting CEO of the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA), was quoted as having called the CAS decision “a victory for Russia.” In addition to asking for a four-year ban, WADA had hoped the CAS would declare that all Russian athletes had to prove they had not benefited from their country’s doping program before being permitted to compete in any international sporting events. The CAS ruled against this, instead stating that the burden of proof lay in WADA’s hands, and unless the anti-doping officials can provide evidence that an athlete has doped, all Russians will be allowed to compete in any events. 

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While Russian athletes technically won’t be listed as “Russian,” they will reportedly still be allowed to wear uniforms with “Russia” printed on them, just as long as “Neutral Athlete” or “Neutral Team” are equally prominent. The CAS also said Russian athletes can wear uniforms with their national colours of red, white and blue, which they were not permitted to wear at the 2017 and 2019 World Athletics Championships

Despite the fact that the CAS cut WADA’s recommended ban in half, WADA president Witold Bańka said he is content with the final decision. “The (CAS) panel has clearly upheld our findings that the Russian authorities brazenly and illegally manipulated the Moscow Laboratory data in an effort to cover up an institutionalized doping scheme,” he said. 

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As for the International Olympic Committee (IOC), an organization that last year said the doping scandal was “flagrant manipulation” and “an insult to the sporting movement,” only a short statement has been released following the CAS ruling. The IOC noted that it would work with sport governing bodies and the International Paralympic Committee to find “a consistent approach in the implementation” of the CAS decision.