Aust backs WADA decision to ban Russia

Russian President Vladimir Putin visits the Russian International Olympic University in the Black Sea. Picture: Shamil Zhumatov/Pool Photo via AP
Russian President Vladimir Putin visits the Russian International Olympic University in the Black Sea. Picture: Shamil Zhumatov/Pool Photo via AP

AUSTRALIA has backed the decision of the World Anti-Doping Agency to ban Russia from competing at the Tokyo Olympics and other sporting world championships.

The decision was taken to impose a four-year suspension after Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA) officials were found to have tampered with doping-related laboratory data.

It will see Russia barred from the 2020 Games in Tokyo, the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics and the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar.

Australia, as Oceania’s representative on WADA’s executive committee, voted to support the sanctions.

“The WADA investigations revealed a clear and calculated intent to covertly manipulate data within the laboratory information management system, hide evidence and falsely blame others for it,” a federal government statement read.

“It follows earlier revelations of the Russian state-sponsored doping program.

“Our athletes deserve to compete on a fair and even playing field both domestically and internationally.

“The Australian Government will continue to advocate for clean and fair competition.”

The Australian Olympic Committee also backed the ban, with vice-president Ian Chesterman saying the sanctions were an appropriate response to the recommendations of WADA Compliance Review Committee.

“Given the disturbing nature of the findings of the Compliance Review Committee, the sanctions send a powerful message”.

“This was a shocking betrayal of fair sport and there are severe consequences for that.”

“Every athlete deserves to compete with the confidence they are competing in a clean and fair environment. The fact that this was a systematic attempt to undermine fair sport makes it all the more galling and all the more offensive.

“While the guilty must be punished, it’s only fair that clean athletes from Russia are given the opportunity to compete if they can demonstrate that they were not implicated in any way.”

But Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has demanded an appeal against the decision.

“Russian organisations that deal with these issues should consider challenging this decision,” Medvedev said in comments carried by state news agency TASS.

Medvedev admitted to “considerable problems” with doping in Russia, but the ban pertains to “athletes who have already been punished”.

Such a far-reaching punishment is the result of “anti-Russian hysteria”, he said.

RUSADA’s deputy director, Margarita Pakhnotskaya, shrugged off the ban as “expected”.

“And that it was also a consensus, I am also not surprised,” she said, adding the WADA committee did not in any way express support for Russia.