The Court of Arbitration of Sports (CAS) slaps two-year ban on Russia Athletes
Russian athletes can compete in 2021 Tokyo Olympics but only as neutral athletes. Russia is accused of scientific administration of performance enchain drugs to its athletes to evade testing positive
The Court of Arbitration of Sports (CAS) has ruled that the Russian athletes cannot compete in any international event for the next two years under the country's name and flag.
The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA) along with several international sporting bodies including the International Olympic Association (IOA) were the parties at the arbitration in the court, situated in Lausanne, Switzerland.
RUSADA had moved to the CAS after WADA imposed a ban on Russia for four years in 2019. The CAS ruling came on 17 December 2020 wherein the CAS judges unanimously upheld WADA 2019 judgement that RUSADA had not complied with WADA's set testing procedures. However, much to the chagrin of the sporting world, the CAS reduced the period of ban from four to two years.
In a major relief, the CAS allowed Russian athletes to participate in international events so long as their uniforms were tagged as "neutral athletes". This may mean that the Russian athletes would be allowed to participate in the next Tokyo Olympics, which has now been rescheduled to take place between 23 July and 8 August 2021. Tokyo Olympics were originally scheduled to take this year between 24 July and 9 August, which the IOA postponed by a year in March this year because of the Covid-19 pandemic. However, in the event of a Russian athlete winning a medal, in place of the Russian flag, the UN flag will be hoisted at the medal ceremony.
WADA has a history of a long-running dispute with Russia. Russia in the past was accused of developing a scientific method to lace use of banned performance-enhancing drugs to prevent its detection in sample tests. Russia was accused of going in for across the board administration of banned drugs to its athletes in its quest to beat USA and China to emerge at the top of the medal tally of major events like the Olympics.
In 2015, WADA announced its first sanction after reports regarding the mass state-sponsored doping of athletes emerged. The sanction was subsequently lifted in 2018. In December 2019, WADA alleged that RUSADA had faked samples and deleted relevant files containing details of Russian athletes testing positive.
After the CAS gave its ruling, WADA acknowledged the decision of the international panel but felt that stricter punishment should have been awarded as a deterrent for other nations. CAS has subjected Russia to fines and constant supervision by WADA's Intelligence and Investigation Department.
The bane of banned performance-enhancing drugs has dogged major international sporting events for long. The Jamaica-born Canadian sprinter Ben Johnson's bid to emerge as the world's fasted man ended up in utter disgrace during the 1988 Seoul Olympic Games. The Canadian sprinter has won gold in the 100-meter dash by clocking the record-breaking timing of 9.79 seconds. However, in the mandatory sample testing, he tested positive for the banned anabolic steroids. He was stripped of the gold medal and sent back home in disgrace.
However, individual punishments like stripping Ben Johnson of the Gold Medal failed to work as a deterrent forcing OIA and WADA of going in for punishing the entire nation with period-specific bans. This decision had some logic considering many athletes reported that they were not aware that they were on the banned drugs as it would be administered to them by coaches and doctors without their knowledge or consent.
India's National Anti-Doping Agency (NADA) was also accused of being lenient even after hundreds of athletes had tested positive, inviting period-specific bans. It was said that these were the mere tip of the iceberg considering the widespread use of performance-enhancing drugs. In India, it was more and widely prevalent among athletes, wrestlers and weightlifters.
A random test during the 2013 edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL) revealed that Delhi cricketer Pradeep Sang wan who was representing Kolkata Knight Riders IKKR) team. He was slapped with an 18-month ban that virtually ended the promising career of the cricketer.
The current Indian Test cricketer Prithvi Shaw was banned for eight months by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) in February 2019 when the urine sample provided by the teenage Mumbai sensation was found with traces of the banned Terbutaline which is commonly found in cough syrups. Shaw got away with mild punishment due to his age and explanation that he consumed it inadvertently to treat a Respiratory Tract Infection and not as a performance-enhancing drug.
The list of athletes banned for taking banned performance-enhancing drugs has names from all across the globe, indicating its widespread use. However, athletes from Russia and the erstwhile USSR figure on the top in the Hall of Shame, reinforcing suspicion that in Russia performance-enhancing drugs are given to athletes systematically and scientifically, thus justifying the CAS slapping a two-year ban on Russia.