State doping: Wada bans Russia for four years

The World Anti-Doping Agency Wada has banned Russia from major sporting events for four years for manipulating laboratory data. The events include the Olympic Games in Tokyo and Beijing and the Fifa World Cup in Qatar. Russian athletes have the option of participating under a neutral flag. What will the ruling achieve?

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Vedomosti (RU) /

The price for criminal arrogance

Russia will pay for its ignorance and power-hungry behaviour in the long term, Vedomosti believes:

“In sports, too, the presumption of impunity regarding clearly illegal acts seems to prevail in Russia: the conviction that its status as a large and influential country will enable it to solve the flood of self-created problems with backroom deals, audacious behaviour or by simply denying the facts. After this series of doping scandals, Moscow must reckon with its counterparts presuming it guilty from now on - and not just in sports.”

Der Tagesspiegel (DE) /

No big deal for Russia

The ruling is unlikely to cause much of a stir in Russia, Der Tagesspiegel assumes:

“They'll no doubt find a way to pass off the successes of Russian athletes competing under a neutral flag as the successes of Russian athletes. ... And despite the neutral flag at the end of the games they'll dance away - like they did in South Korea after their victory in the ice hockey finals - with gold medals around their necks and singing the Russian anthem. Russian viewers weren't particularly bothered by the label 'Olympic Athletes from Russia'. At the stadium or biathlon track they cheered their team on with shouts of 'Rossiya, Rossiya!' Not even the medals table - which is so important for patriots - posed a real problem, because it's not official. So there was nothing stopping anyone from adding up the medals of the Russian athletes and inserting them into the tableau.”

Tages-Anzeiger (CH) /

All still in the running

The punishment seems strict but is extremely mild considering the scale of the cheating, observes the Tages-Anzeiger:

“Despite the Wada ruling, a lot of top Russian athletes will be at the starting line in Japan in 2020 and China in 2022. As with the 2018 Winter Games, every Russian who can prove his or her innocence will be able to take part. So you have to congratulate the Russians. As Wada can now prove in detail, they manipulated the crucial (control) data of their so-called Anti-Doping Laboratory in Moscow so extensively even until this winter that no one now knows which Russians took drugs and which ones didn't. Meaning that when in doubt, every doper will have to be waved through for lack of evidence at major events.”

ABC (ES) /

Doping as a foreign policy strategy

ABC sees systematic fraud in sport as part of Russia's foreign policy strategy of breaking all the rules:

“The state doping practiced by the Kremlin can't be understood as an isolated fact. The heroic athletes - doped to win - are as much a part of Russia's foreign policy as the agents who intervene as agitators whenever there's a political crisis. It's no coincidence that those who distort international competitions are the same ones who turn up in the laboratories where the news that poisons and shocks international public opinion is fabricated and disseminated.”