Russia banned from global sports for 4 years by World Anti-Doping Agency

Russia banned from global sports for 4 years by World Anti-Doping Agency
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The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has banned Russia from global sports for four years following reports of a doping program intended to improve the country’s image in the sporting arena, The New York Times reports.

According to the newspaper, only Russian athletes that have been cleared of wrongdoing may participate in the upcoming Olympic Games under the punishments unanimously agreed to by the board on Monday. However, they reportedly must do so in neutral uniforms and, should they win, would be unable to keep any medals.

“They’re going to have to prove they had nothing to do with the noncompliance,” a spokesperson for the agency told the Times.

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The games will also not put the Russian flag on the display when Russian athletes win, or play its anthem, the newspaper noted.

Russia will also reportedly be banned from hosting global sporting events during the four-year period. And as part of the punishments, officials in the country are also banned from attending major sporting events as well.

The punishment has been met with criticism from some members of the agency, including Linda Helleland of Norway, who is currently the group’s vice president.

Helleland told the Times that Russian athletes should not be able to continue competing, even with the penalties handed down in the Monday vote.

“I am not happy with the decision we made today,” Helleland said. “This was as far as we could go.”

The move comes after members of Russia's intelligence service were found to have gotten rid of athletes’ urine samples that tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs in the 2014 Winter Olympics.

A number of members of the anti-doping agency reportedly backed a blanket ban on Russia over the scandal.

Thomas Bach, the president of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), has condemned Russia’s doping program an “unprecedented attack on the integrity of the Olympic Games and sport.”

"The IOC [Executive Board], after following due process, has issued proportional sanctions for this systemic manipulation while protecting the clean athletes,” he said last year. “This should draw a line under this damaging episode and serve as a catalyst for a more effective anti-doping system led by WADA."