November 29, 2019 01:57 GMT
Russia has lashed back at a proposed four-year ban on the country’s athletes over noncompliance with anti-doping regulations, calling it a politically motivated act designed to prevent its athletes from competing.
“This is about the politicization of this issue in order to squeeze Russia out. There is a term for such a thing: unfair competition. This is a battle without rules, maybe even already a war,” Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on November 28.
“The issue of doping…focuses exclusively on Russia. The problems of other countries are not discussed at all,” she added.
A key panel of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) on November 25 recommended that Russia be hit with a four-year ban from sporting competition over noncompliance with the World Anti-Doping Code.
WADA’s Compliance Review Committee accused Russia of falsifying laboratory data provided to investigators as part of a probe into the doping allegations that have plagued Russia since the revelation of large-scale, state-sponsored doping aimed at improving its medal performance at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.
Russian track-and-field athletes were banned from competing at the Rio Olympics in 2016, although those participating in other events were allowed to participate.
The ban was extended to all events at the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics. However, Russians who could prove they were clean from doping violations were allowed to compete as neutrals under the Olympic flag.
The WADA panel said the final decision will rest with its Executive Committee, which will consider the recommendation and the proposed consequences on December 9.
The chief of Russia’s anti-doping agency, RUSADA, said on November 26 he expected the WADA Executive Committee to uphold the recommendation.
“That’s the reality,” Yury Ganus told the media. “We are plunging, for the next four years, into a new phase of Russia’s doping crisis.”
If the executive panel adopts the committee’s recommendations at its Paris meeting, Russia faces exclusion from key sporting events, including the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
If a suspension is called for, Russia could challenge the ruling with the Swiss-based Court of Arbitration for Sport, whose decision will be binding on sports bodies, including the International Olympic Committee.
© RFE/RL 2019