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Russia faces sporting ban as WADA meets

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Lausanne (AFP)

Russia faces an unprecedented four-year ban from international sporting competitions, including the Olympic Games, when the World Anti-Doping Agency holds a crucial meeting in Lausanne on Monday.

WADA's executive committee is expected to approve a recommendation by its Compliance Review Committee that Russia be handed a four-year suspension after accusing Moscow of falsifying laboratory doping data handed over to investigators earlier this year. A WADA press conference is scheduled for 1230 GMT.

Such a heavy sanction would see Russia ruled out of next year's Tokyo Olympics and the Winter Games in Beijing in 2022.

Russian government officials would be barred from attending any major events, while the country would lose the right to host, or even bid, for tournaments.

Under the proposed sanctions, Russian sportsmen and women would still be allowed to compete at the Olympics next year but only if they can demonstrate that they were not part of what WADA believes was a state-sponsored system of doping.

Full disclosure of data from the Moscow laboratory was a key condition of Russia's controversial reinstatement by WADA in September 2018.

The Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA) had been suspended for nearly three years previously over revelations of a vast state-supported doping programme.

- 'Attack on sport' -

WADA president Craig Reedie made a presentation Saturday to the Olympic Summit, participants of which "strongly condemned those responsible for the manipulation of the data from the Moscow laboratory".

"It was agreed that this was an attack on sport and that these actions should lead to the toughest sanctions against those responsible," the IOC said in a statement.

"It was stressed by the participants that full justice must be finally done so that the guilty ones can be properly punished and the innocent ones are fully protected."

The IOC (International Olympic Committee) asked that the Russian authorities deliver the "fully authenticated raw data".

Former WADA president Dick Pound, who chaired the commission that in 2015 made damning accusations of state-sponsored doping in Russian athletics, said Moscow had this time gone "too far".

"The IOC is a little bit tired about what Russia has been doing and so I see the IOC probably focusing more on athletes who are newer," Pound told AFP.

"Much of the stuff we are looking back now is 2011, 2015. We are years later and many of those athletes are no longer competing and there is a new generation of athlete, many of whom have been regularly tested."

Pound acknowledged the influential role of Russia -- which in recent years hosted the 2014 Winter Olympics as well as the football World Cup in 2018 -- "on many levels" in the sporting world.

"On the field of play, it is a big, important country. With China and the United States, it's among the sporting giants, so that's influential," he said.

"It's (also) influential because Russia hosts and is willing to host many competitions for international federations, especially those who don't have much money of their own, so they have a considerable influence among the international federations.

"And they've been quite strategic about making sure that they get Russians into positions on international federations. So they have an impact from inside as well as from outside."

- 'A mockery' -

A majority of WADA's influential athlete committee called overnight for a "complete ban on Russian participation", nine members of the 17-strong group saying such a move was "the only meaningful sanction".

"We maintain that the fraud, manipulation and deception revealed to date will only be encouraged and perpetuated with a lesser response," they said.

"Until these critical abuses of integrity in sport are confronted with courage and a resolute commitment to protect athletes and clean sport, they will continue, and the sports we love remain tarnished.

"To date, the Russian doping saga has dominated three Olympic and Paralympic Games, with a fourth on the horizon. Russia's ongoing and intentional acts of deception, fraud and corruption have made a mockery not only those who play by the rules, but those who create and safeguard them."

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