Usada chief calls for complete ban of Russian athletes from Olympics

World Athletics
World Athletics, formerly the IAAF, held a meeting in Monaco on Friday

The World Anti-Doping Agency "must get tougher" and ban all Russian athletes from competing at the Olympics, says US Anti-Doping Agency chief Travis Tygart.

World Athletics, formerly the IAAF, has halted Russia's reinstatement after senior officials were suspended for anti-doping rule breaches.

Russia has been banned from competing as a nation in athletics since 2015.

Some athletes have been able to compete under a neutral status, including at the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics.

"Wada must get tougher and impose the full restriction on Russian athlete participation in the Olympics that the rules allow," said Tygart.

"Only such a resolute response has a chance of getting Russia's attention, changing behaviour, and protecting today's clean athletes who will compete in Tokyo, as well as future generations of athletes in Russia who deserve better than a cynical, weak response to the world's repeated calls for Russia to clean up its act.

"It is sad when a country's athletes suffer for the fraud of the governmental and sport system they represent. However, the failure to stand up to Russia's five-year flaunting of the rules would cause even more harm to athletes in and outside of Russia. The time for the toughest penalty available is now."

Last week, Wada's compliance review committee (CRC) recommended a raft of measures - including banning Russia from hosting and competing in major international events - after declaring the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (Rusada) non-compliant over inconsistencies in anti-doping data.

Wada's executive committee will consider the recommendations and make the final decision at a meeting in Paris on 9 December.

Athletes have not been able to compete for Russia since November 2015 after state-sponsored doping was uncovered. Under the terms of the ban, athletes who have met World Athletics' doping review board's drug-testing criteria can compete under a neutral flag.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has demanded the "toughest sanctions" against Russia but would be willing to allow clean athletes to compete under a neutral flag again.

"Russia continues to flaunt the world's anti-doping rules, kick clean athletes in the gut and poke Wada in the eye and get away with it time and time again," Tygart added.

"Wada must stand up to this fraudulent and bullying behaviour as the rules and Olympic values demand. The response proposed by the CRC is inadequate, especially given the deceit perpetuated by the Russian sport system which is controlled by the government.

"History has taught us the response to Russian doping used in Rio 2016 and Pyeongchang 2018 - in which a secretly managed process permitted Russians to compete - did not work."

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Grigory Rodchenkov speaks to BBC sports editor Dan Roan in February 2018

Russian doping whistleblower Grigory Rodchenkov - the former head of Moscow's anti-doping laboratory - has also called for harsher punishments.

"The Russian gangster state continues to deploy a predictable and deplorable policy of deception, evidence tampering and lying to cover up its crimes," his lawyers said in a statement.

"The Kremlin must think the people of the world are idiots to believe this shameless and transparent stunt.

"Wada should be applauded for revealing Russia's latest crime, but if the IOC and the international sports regulatory framework gives Russia yet another free pass, other countries will simply follow in their footsteps."

Analysis

BBC sports editor Dan Roan

All the signs are that, on 9 December, Wada's leadership will accept the recommendation of its compliance panel and cast Russia into the international sporting wilderness.

For the second successive Olympic Games, and in many other major events, for the next four years, there would be no official Russia team, with athletes forced to compete as neutrals and only after passing eligibility checks. Given the scale of cheating and deception, many critics will argue a blanket ban on all Russian athletes would be a more appropriate punishment.

But even though almost five years have now passed since the Russian doping scandal was first exposed, this is unlikely be the end of the story. Russia is expected to appeal via the Court of Arbitration for Sport and argue that individuals acting on behalf of the state - rather than its sports authorities - were responsible for the audacious manipulation and deletion of data, and therefore athletes should not be punished.

Do not be surprised therefore if the build-up to another Olympics is overshadowed by further twists in what has arguably become the gravest scandal in sports history.

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