Should Russia be allowed to compete in international sporting events?

“Of course, not” Grigory Rodchenkov said, “it shows the country learns absolutely nothing.”

Grigory Rodchenkov, stood down from being head of Russia’s anti-doping laboratory and revealed after many years of speculation that Russia did indeed manipulate and tamper with laboratory data from January 2012 to August 2015.

After a messy Olympics in London 2012 , 104 athletes, most of which were Russian were found to be doping.

With further investigations, Russia was banned by the World Anti-Doping Association (WADA) in December 2019 from competing in international sporting events for the next four years. Which meant athletes dreams of competing in the now postponed 2020 Tokyo Olympics and the 2022 World Cup, were shattered.

RUSSIA-DOPING-WADA-BAN-OLY-2020 : News Photo

Russia have since decided that they are not settling for a ban. Oleg Matytsin, Russia’s minister of sport said that they would pay the £5 million fine so they can escape expulsion, whilst promising to reform the athletics federation.

Grigory Rodchenkov said back in 2018: “If the flag will be allowed to appear it will be the worst decision. The Olympics will die”.

He also said that if WADA do not allow Russia’s return to international sport: “It should show how they are consistent with the fight against doping”.

Vladimir Putin also commented signalling that Russia will not settle for a four-year ban said: “Punishment cannot be collective and affect those people who have nothing to do with certain violations. I think that Wada specialists understand this as well.

“If some of them make such decisions on collective punishment, then it seems to me that there are grounds to believe that [it is] not care for clean global sports is behind this, but rather political considerations that have nothing to do with the interests of sports and the Olympic movement.”

An example of an individual that received her own banning was professional tennis star Maria Sharapova. In 2016 Sharapova was caught out in a drug test at the Australian open using Meldonium, a drug that is used to cure heart disease but is actually beneficial for athletes, helping them with stamina and endurance.

In Profile: Maria Sharapova's Grand Slam Wins : News Photo
Maria Sharapova with her Grand Slam trophies

Sharapova was one of the highest payed females in the world, winning a career grand slam which is made up of all four major titles: Wimbledon, and the US, Australian and French Opens, the latter twice. She received a two-year ban from competing which later got reviewed and reduced to a 15-month ban. But do people find this fair?

Maria Sharapova was one of many professional Russian athletes that have been caught doping in international sporting events and despite Putin’s words, other associations around the world have agreed with WADA’s punishment.

US chief executive of the Anti-Doping Agency, Travis Tygart, sympathised with Russian athletes that did not conform to the behaviour of cheating, he called it a “devastating blow”however agreed that some reform had to be made.

Although, the extent of the punishment wasn’t up to the likings of Tygart.

He said: “Wada promised the world back in 2018 that if Russia failed yet again to live up to its agreements, it would use the toughest sanction under the rules. Yet here we go again; Wada says one thing and does something entirely different.”

Ali Jawad, an ex-paralympian and member of UK Anti-Doping’s athlete commission agreed with Tygart, saying: “To protect the next generation of Russian athletes, we need to make sure Russia and the system is punished to the fullest extent”.  

Russian athletes who have no known history using preforming enhancing drugs will be allowed to compete in international games such as the Olympics, however they will be competing as neutral, they are not allowed to be represented by the Russian flag and the Russian national anthem may not be played.

In a court case in November we will witness Russia’s future in international sport being debated and whether the country’s plea of $5 million in return for their ability to compete will be accepted by WADA, so their country can be represented alongside the national athletes in the upcoming Olympics and World Cup.

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