A Swiss court on Thursday banned Russian athletes from competing under their flag at major international sporting events, including the Olympics, as part of the country’s doping sanctions.

The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) upheld the ban, but cut its duration in half from four years to two. The long-awaited ruling will ban the flag and anthem of Russia from appearing at each of the next Olympic Games and other major international competitions through December 16, 2022.

Though cut in half, the ban was hailed by the WADA which implemented the ban last year after investigators found that Russia had tampered the drug-testing data of their athletes.

“In the face of continual resistance and denial from Russia, we clearly proved our case, in accordance with due process,” a statement from WADA reads.

WADA had originally banned Russia from the world’s top sporting events for four years in December 2019, but the sanctions could not be implemented until the end of the appeal process.

Russian sporting authority had said they hoped CAS would fully take the country’s interests into account, and said the inconsistencies in the data were purely technical and not the result of tampering.

Russia’s doping issues have been highlighted since a 2015 report commissioned by WADA found evidence that more than 1,000 athletes in at least 30 sports were involved in, or benefitted from state-sponsored doping programs from 2011 to 2015.

Many Russian athletes were removed from the past two Olympics and the country was deprived of its flag at the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Games as punishment for state-sponsored doping at the 2014 Sochi Games in southern Russia.

How does the ban affect Russian athletes?

Athletes from Russia, who were not implicated in doping or not involved in the investigation, will still be able to compete under a neutral flag and wear uniforms that contain the Russia colors.

They will be allowed to attend next year’s Tokyo Olympics and the 2022 Winter Games in Beijing, as well as world championships including the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

“Clean Russian athletes can take part in the Olympics without any restrictions and do that on a team formed by the national Olympic committee,” Russian Olympic Committee president Stanislav Pozdnyakov said.

The ban also entails that government officials or representatives from Russia will not be allowed to attend the Olympic Games or any sporting events.

Russia will also not be appointed to or sit on committees or serve as board members at organizations that must abide by the World Anti-Doping Agency code.

Russian President Vladimir Putin is essentially banned from attending any major sporting event, unless he receives an official invitation by the host nation’s head of state.


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