MOSCOW, (Reuters) – The Kremlin said on Friday that it regrets that Russia could not avoid doping sanctions but some officials declared a small victory after a sport’s top court halved a ban on athletes competing in the Olympics under the Russian flag for two years.
The decision, announced by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in Lausanne, on Thursday, softened sanctions issued by global anti-doping authorities in response to Moscow deliberately providing doctoral laboratory data that may have been identify drug cheats, something he denies. .
The Kremlin said it was good that the ruling, which some foreign sports officials said was not difficult enough given Russia’s doping offenses, allowed some Russian athletes to compete in the world’s most prestigious sporting events.
CAS said the decision means Russians who have not been suspended have the opportunity to compete in the Olympics and world championships as neutrals – without a Russian flag on their uniform and without the country anthem being sung at venues officially.
“Of course we regret this (general judgment), we see it negatively,” said Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov. “But at the same time, the main thing is that athletes have the right to take part in competitions” as neutral competitors.
The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) said the measures were “the strongest set of consequences ever imposed on any country for docking-related offenses.”
Russian officials, despite their disappointment over more sanctions, focused on the fact that the decision was no worse.
“Today’s result is a victory for Russia,” Mikhail Bukhanov, acting director of the Russian anti-doping agency RUSADA, said on Thursday.
“CAS did not restrict the right of clean athletes to compete at the Olympic and Paralympic Games, as well as at the world championships.”
Sports Minister Oleg Matytsin said it was “positive” that the sanctions would only last until December 2022, instead of four years.
The ruling leaves Russian athletes without their flag and national anthem at next year’s Tokyo Olympics, the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics and the 2022 football World Cup in Qatar.
‘SLAP ON THE WRIST’
Russian officials fled the sanctions barred them from attending the Olympics and other major events for two years.
They cannot be appointed to or sit on committees or serve as board members in organizations that must adhere to the WADA code during that period.
“It’s not right to say the least to extend the sanctions act to cover civil servants,” RIA quoted Matytsin news agency saying.
The sanctions do not apply to a government official invited to attend a major sporting event by a foreign head of state.
“This is just one more dark result in a long 10-plus year effort for the Russians to essentially corrupt, cover up and eliminate sport,” Travis Tygart, CEO of the US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) ), says Reuters.
“And don’t forget that this slap on the wrist, a light slap on the wrist, was exactly what happened (at the 2018 Winter Olympics) in Pyeongchang.”
Many Russian athletes were marginalized in the last two Olympics and the country was deprived of its flag for the Pyeongchang Games as a punishment for state-sponsored doping at the 2014 Sochi Games in southern Russia.
Russia, which has in the past recognized some flaws in implementing anti-doping policies, denies running a state-sponsored doping program.