Russia’s doping ban halved, but it will miss the next two Olympics

Russian athletes are allowed to participate in events as neutral, provided WADA shows no connection with the doping scheme that involved agents of the Russian state security apparatus at its peak who replaced contaminated doping test samples with clean samples during midnight. night operations at the 2014 Winter Olympics. Russia hosted the Games in Sochi, a coastal town that has been rebuilt at great expense to showcase the country’s sporting and economic power.

The plan, begun years earlier, only came to light after one of the main architects, Grigory Rodchenkov, the former head of a Moscow doping laboratory at the heart of the scandal, revealed what had happened.

Rodchenkov, who now lives in an unknown location in the United States, revealed how hundreds of contaminated anti-doping results were manipulated before entering official records, protecting athletes from identification and allowing them to take advantage of chemically enhanced benefits before going to major championships.

Anti-doping investigators recommended a four-year ban after discovering that Russian officials had fabricated evidence and manipulated the contents of a drug testing database in an attempt to discredit Rodchenkov and further disguise his behavior. The WADA board agreed in a meeting last December with the recommendation and imposed the four-year ban.

On Thursday, Rodchenkov’s attorney, Jim Walden, overturned the CAS decision to cut it in half.

“CAS’s decision to be effective split the baby is nonsensical and undeserved, ”he said. Despite overwhelming evidence of corruption, drug fraud and obstruction of justice, including a brutal attempt to falsely accuse Dr. Rodchenkov through fabricated evidence, CAS has once again proven unwilling and incapable of coping meaningfully with systematic and long-term crime by Russia. “

Jonathan Taylor, who headed the committee that oversaw the Russia investigation and recommended the extended ban, said in an interview that he had mixed feelings about the outcome of the appeal. While the panel accepted WADA’s “overwhelming evidence of tampering” and affirmed that its new sanctioning powers were adequate enough to withstand criticism, it questioned the logic in reducing the penalty.

“The only difference between us is that CAS felt that the consequences did not have to go as far as WADA had proposed to deter repetition of this misconduct by the Russian authorities,” Taylor said. “I hope they are right about that.”