Will Russia be banned from the 2020 Tokyo Games?

Will Russia be banned from the 2020 Games?

WADA decision

Will Russia be banned from the 2020 Tokyo Games?

Von Wigbert Löer und Hajo Seppelt

The ARD doping editorial team questioned the head of WADA's committee on the manipulation and cover-up of Russian doping cases. Jonathan Taylor suggests that Russian sport should fear harsh consequences this time.

These are turbulent weeks for the world of sport as focus turns once again onto the sports nation Russia. Or, more precisely: Russia's handling of massive allegations of fraud. Since the first revelations of the ARD doping editorial team in December 2014, sports federations and the World Anti-Doping-Agency, WADA, have had to ask themselves what is the right answer to manipulation and cover-up. What sanctions are appropriate if a country secretly manipulates sports competitions or, as appears to be the case now, undermines the investigations into state sponsored doping?

The current accusations weigh heavily: the country has manipulated thousands of athletes’ test results. That's what someone who needs to know said, namely the head of the Russian Anti-Doping Agency RUSADA, Yuri Ganus. The ARD doping editorial team now had the opportunity to talk about this with Jonathan Taylor. British lawyer Taylor heads WADA's Compliance Review Committee (CRC). Among other things, this committee is responsible for the Russian case. Taylor explained the background to what is happening these days - and what consequences Russia must expect.

The Minister of Sport is weighing up

At the beginning of 2019, the Russians submitted laboratory data of suspected doping cases to WADA for review, which were to prove the extent of the state doping programme from 2012 to 2015. However, WADA now doubts the authenticity of the data provided. Russian Sports Minister Pavel Kolobkov denies this, stating that nobody has deleted anything and that there was no manipulation. Kolobkov speaks only of "technical problems", which computer experts will soon clarify.

WADA’s Jonathan Taylor now describes the Russian laboratory data in the ARD interview as "not authentic” and “not complete". He says, "Some alterations" have been made. WADA were now going to meet Russian experts. A report was then going to be prepared for him and his colleagues on the Compliance Review Committee. Its members will meet this Sunday (November 17, 2019). They will discuss the case - and make recommendations to WADA's Executive Committee that very day.

The WADA man also has the masterminds in view

Taylor makes it clear that this isn't just about dealing with the past. It also casts "a shadow over current athletes" if their data is "hasn’t been properly provided". Taylor by no means sees the Russian Anti-Doping Agency, RUSADA, as the only subject of possible sanctions. Consequences must be sufficient to convince RUSADA "but also those supporting RUSADA to comply with their obligations".

By this, the head of the WADA Committee most likely points to the state’s supporters of the Russian doping and doping concealment programme, the masterminds in the Ministry of Sport and the helpers from the secret service apparatus. In the past, for example during the Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russian agents had actively supported manipulations.

Taylor also wants to set an example, as long as WADA is convinced of Russia's misdemeanour. The "purpose of the consequences" is "to force people to comply with the standard and to deter people who are thinking of not complying with the standard". Taylor rules out a mild reaction from the responsible WADA committee, the CRC, which he chairs: If the experts say: "there’s been tampering with the data, then you can expect a strong recommendation from the CRC".

A ban on Russian athletes and officials is possible

Taylor: Suspension from Olympic Games is a possibilty for Russia Sportschau 15.11.2019 08:55 Min. Verfügbar bis 15.11.2020 Das Erste

A "strong recommendation" - according to Taylor this could be that no international sporting events take place in Russia anymore. Russia's officials and athletes could also be excluded from "international events" such as the Olympic Games. Taylor literally describes an Olympic ban on Russian athletes as "one of the consequences that can be proposed under the standard". And he says: "If the facts reported by the experts persuade the CRC it should make a recommendation, it will".

Should the Russian Anti-Doping Agency, RUSADA, prove to be innocent, this would not automatically protect Russia as a sporting nation from punishment. Taylor: "If you think about it, it’s the same as an athlete, an athlete can say, “well, it was my doctor who gave me the medicine or gave me the supplement.” The athlete is still responsible. The same with RUSADA."

Test for the suitability of the anti-doping system

Regardless, the Russian case might still end up before the sports court. RUSADA can accept what WADA decides, "in which case the consequences apply and everyone is bound by them," says Jon Taylor. "Or it can dispute the notice and say: 'we’re not non-compliant', or 'The consequences are not fair'. In this case, WADA could bring the case before the International Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).

Jon Taylor sees the Russian case as a kind of test for the suitability of the anti-doping system. He is of good cheer. "If the facts are there, then I expect the recommendation to be a strong one. I expect the WADA Executive Committee to endorse that, and, if there’s a dispute, I expect the CAS to uphold those rules."

Stand: 15.11.2019, 10:08