Russia banned from using its name, flag at next 2 Olympics

Olympics

FILE – In this Feb. 23, 2014 file photo the Russian national flag, right, flies after it is hoisted next to the Olympic flag during the closing ceremony of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. The ruling on whether Russia can keep its name and flag for the Olympics will be announced on Thursday Dec. 17, 2020. The Court of Arbitration for Sport said Wednesday that three of its arbitrators held a four-day hearing last month in the dispute between the World Anti-Doping Agency and its Russian affiliate, known as RUSADA. (AP Photo/Matthias Schrader, file)

GENEVA (AP) — Russia was banned Thursday from using its name, flag and anthem at the next two Olympics or at any world championships for the next two years.

The Court of Arbitration for Sport’s ruling also blocked Russia from bidding to host major sporting events for two years.

Russian athletes and teams will still be allowed to compete at next year’s Tokyo Olympics and the 2022 Winter Games in Beijing, as well as world championships including the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, if they are not implicated in doping or covering up positive tests.

The punishments are less than the four-year ban the World Anti-Doping Agency had proposed.

One small win for Russia is the proposed team name at major events. The name “Russia” can be retained on uniforms if the words “Neutral Athlete” or “Neutral Team” have equal prominence, the court said.

Still, the court’s three judges imposed the most severe penalties on Russia since allegations of state-backed doping and cover-ups emerged after the 2014 Sochi Olympics.

The case centered on accusations that Russian state authorities tampered with a database from the Moscow testing laboratory before handing it over to WADA investigators last year. It contained likely evidence to prosecute long-standing doping violations.

The CAS process was formally between WADA and the Russian anti-doping agency. The Russian agency, known as Rusada, was ruled non-compliant last year — a decision upheld Thursday by the three judges.

Rusada was also ordered to pay $1.27 million to WADA.

When a four-day hearing was held in Lausanne last month, Russian athletes and their lawyers took part as third parties arguing they should not be punished for misconduct by state officials not working in sports.

Giving WADA the lab database by a December 2018 deadline was a key condition for Rusada being reinstated three months earlier when a previous expulsion from the anti-doping community was lifted.

WADA investigators in Moscow eventually got the data one month late. Evidence of doping tests and emails appeared to have been deleted or changed, and whistleblowers were implicated.

The ruling allows Russian government officials, including President Vladimir Putin, to attend major sporting events if invited by the host nation’s head of state.

WADA investigators went to Moscow two years ago to collect the database and begin verifying evidence that would help sports governing bodies prosecute suspected doping violations dating back several years.

Although Russia would be stripped of hosting world championships in the next two years, events can be reprieved. Governing bodies have been advised to find a new host “unless it is legally or practically impossible to do so.”

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