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World Anti-Doping Agency bans Russia from Olympics

A view through a fence decorated with the Olympic rings shows a building that housed a laboratory accredited by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA). On Monday, December 9, 2019, the agency banned the Russian flag and national anthem from the Olympics and other world sporting events for four years.
A view through a fence decorated with the Olympic rings shows a building that housed a laboratory accredited by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA). On Monday, December 9, 2019, the agency banned the Russian flag and national anthem from the Olympics and other world sporting events for four years. Sergei Karpukhin/File Photo/REUTERS

The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) banned Russia from the Olympics and world championships in a range of sports for four years on Monday after the agency ruled to punish it for manipulating laboratory data, a WADA spokesman said.

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WADA's executive committee made the decision after it concluded that Moscow had tampered with laboratory data by planting fake evidence and deleting files linked to positive doping tests that could have helped identify drug cheats.

The WADA committee's decision to punish Russia with a ban was unanimous, the spokesman said.

Russia, which has tried to showcase itself as a global sports power, has been embroiled in doping scandals since a 2015 report commissioned by WADA found evidence of mass doping in the country’s athletics.

Russia’s doping woes have grown since, with many of its athletes sidelined from the past two Olympics. The country was stripped of its flag altogether at last year's Pyeongchang Winter Games as punishment for state-sponsored doping cover-ups at the 2014 Sochi Games.

Monday's sanctions had been recommended by WADA's compliance review committee in response to the doctored laboratory data provided by Moscow earlier this year.

Russia's Sports Minister Pavel Kolobkov last month attributed the discrepancies in the laboratory data to technical issues.

One of the conditions for the reinstatement of Russian anti-doping agency RUSADA, which was suspended in 2015 in the wake of the country's doping scandal but reinstated last year, had been that Moscow provide an authentic copy of the laboratory data.

The sanctions effectively strip the agency of its accreditation.

WADA’s punishment leaves the door open for banned-substance-free Russian athletes to compete at international sporting events without their flag or anthem for four years, as was the case in Pyeongchang.

Some Russian officials, meanwhile, have branded the call for sanctions unfair and likened it to broader Western attempts to hold back their country.

RUSADA can appeal WADA's sanctions within 21 days. If it does, the case will be referred to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), WADA has said.

(FRANCE 24 with AP and REUTERS)

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