Russia cannot use its name and flag at the next 2 Olympic Games

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GENEVA (AP) – Russia will not be able to use its name, flag and anthem at the next two Olympic Games or any world championship for the next two years after a ruling by the Court of Arbitration for Sport on Thursday.

Lausanne-based court cut four-year ban proposed last year by the World Anti-Doping Agency in half in landmark case accusing Russia of state-ordered tampering of test lab database in Moscow. The decision also barred Russia from bidding to host major sporting events for two years.

Russian athletes and teams will still be allowed to participate in the Tokyo Olympics and the 2022 Winter Games in Beijing next year, as well as the world championships, including the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, s’ they are not involved in doping or concealing positive tests.

A victory for Russia is the name of the team proposed at major events. The name “Russia” may be retained on uniforms if the words “Neutral Athlete” or equivalents like “Neutral Team” have equal significance, the court said.

The burden of proof was also shifted from Russian athletes and more to WADA when it came to verifying their doping history for selection at the Olympics or other sporting events.

Russian athletes and teams can also keep the colors of the national flag red, white and blue in their uniforms at major events. This has not been possible for the Russians in the last two track world championships.

Even with those concessions, the court’s three justices have imposed the toughest sanctions on Russia since allegations of state-backed doping and cover-up emerged after the 2014 Sochi Olympics.

WADA President Witold Bańka welcomed the court’s decision despite the ban reduced to two years.

“The panel (TAS) clearly confirmed our findings that the Russian authorities brazenly and illegally manipulated data from the Moscow laboratory with the aim of concealing an institutionalized doping system,” Bańka said in a statement.

The case centered on accusations that Russian state agencies altered and deleted parts of the database before handing it over to WADA investigators last year. It contained probable evidence to prosecute long-standing doping violations.

The CAS process was formally between WADA and the Russian anti-doping agency, which refused to accept last year’s four-year ban. The Russian agency, known as Rusada, was declared non-compliant last year – a decision confirmed by the three judges on Thursday.

Rusada was also ordered to pay $ 1.27 million to WADA.

The judges’ 186-page ruling is expected to be released in the coming weeks.

The Russian agency can appeal the sanctions to the Swiss Supreme Court in Lausanne.

In a four-day hearing in Lausanne last month, Russian athletes and their lawyers participated as third parties arguing that they should not be punished for misconduct by state officials. not working in sport.

Handing over the lab’s database to WADA by the December 2018 deadline was a key condition for Rusada’s reinstatement three months earlier when a previous expulsion from the anti-doping community was lifted.

WADA investigators in Moscow finally obtained the data a month late. Evidence of doping tests and emails appeared to have been deleted or altered, and whistleblowers were involved.

The move allows Russian government officials, including President Vladimir Putin, to attend major sporting events if invited by the host country’s head of state.

WADA investigators traveled to Moscow two years ago to collect the database and start verifying evidence that would help sports governing bodies pursue alleged doping violations dating back several years.

Although Russia is not bound to host world championships in the next two years, the events can be picked up. The governing bodies were urged to find a new host “unless it is legally or practically impossible to do so”.

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