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Putin Protests As Russia Banned From Olympics, Major Sporting Events

Neer Varshney

The president of the Russian Federation, Vladimir Putin, on Monday protested the World Anti-Doping Agency’s decision to ban Russian athletes from competing in the Olympics and other major sporting events under the country’s flag.

What Happened

WADA’s executive committee earlier on Monday banned Russia from hosting or participating in any major sporting events for a four-year period. 

The committee said that it found Russia guilty of tampering with key doping test data before it could be forensically copied by WADA earlier in January.

WADA’s decision means that Russia won’t be able to participate in the Tokyo Olympics next year and the men’s FIFA World Cup in Qatar in 2022, among other sporting events. The country is also barred from bidding for the right to host the 2032 Olympics or Paralympics, WADA said.

The Russian athletes, who don’t face doping allegations, would still have the option to participate in the sporting events under a neutral flag, similar to what they did in the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics.

“For too long, Russian doping has detracted from clean sport, WADA’s president Craig Reedie said in a statement. 

Reedie said that Russia’s actions demanded a “robust response,” adding that the country was “afforded every opportunity to get its house in order,” but instead chose to persist with its “stance of deception and denial.”

WADA’s Decision Is Political: Putin

Putin, who is in Paris for Normandy Format talks over the conflict in Eastern Ukraine, told reporters later on Monday that the country would appeal against WADA’s decision, Reuters reported.

According to Reuters, Putin said the decision “smacked of politics and was not in the interest of sport.”

The president noted that Russia’s national olympic committee has not been implicated in WADA’s findings, which means that the agency’s decision to ban athletes from competing under the Russian flag violated Olympics charter.

“Any punishment should be individual, and should be linked to what has been done ... by one person or another. A punishment cannot be collective, and apply to people who have nothing to do with certain violations,” Putin said, as reported by Reuters.

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