Three years after Russia was banned from the 2018 Winter Olympics — with a limited number of its athletes allowed to compete as “neutrals” — anti-doping officials have suggested a similar policy for the next two Games.
An expert panel with the World Anti-Doping Agency submitted its recommendations after reviewing evidence that the Russians tampered with data from a testing lab in Moscow. The panel characterized the misconduct as “extremely serious,” with “several aggravating features.”
The Russian scandal dates back years, encompassing allegations of systemic cheating among athletes, coaches and officials. The country was banned by the international track federation in addition to its Olympic sanctions.
At the Pyeongchang Games, 168 of its athletes were allowed to participate after proving they had not cheated in the past. These “Olympic Athletes from Russia” competed under a neutral flag.
In a more recent effort to be reinstated, Russia submitted lab files, only to have investigators allege the data had been manipulated, with hundreds of test results removed.
The WADA panel recommended that Russia be deemed “non-complaint” for a four-year period, which would preclude its competing as a nation at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, the 2022 Beijing Winter Games and world championships.
The country also would be prohibited from hosting major sporting events during that time.
WADA’s executive committee will rule on the recommendations at a Dec. 9 meeting.