Anti-doping authorities look to increase penalties for national teams

In the latest fallout from the Russian doping scandal, the World Anti-Doping Agency is moving toward stricter penalties for national teams in cases of systemic cheating.

WADA’s foundation board voted Thursday to fast-track the new rules in hopes of having them in place for the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

The change would mean that entire nations — and international federations that govern particular sports — could face the same bans and other sanctions that currently apply to individual athletes who test positive.

The issue has come to a head as a result of investigations that found widespread cheating among Russian athletes, coaches and government officials.

Last summer, WADA recommended the Russian team be banned from the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games. The International Olympic Committee chose instead to have each of the international federations decide which athletes would be eligible.

The Russians ended up competing in Brazil without their track team and numerous athletes in other sports.

WADA is scheduled for a periodic code revision in 2021 but is trying to take action sooner. If the board’s recommendation is approved, the IOC and all other relevant sports organizations would have to comply with any sanctions.

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