Russian boxers have threatened to boycott the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, joining other athletes and officials from their country in pushing back against a four-year ban imposed by anti-doping authorities.
The World Anti-Doping Agency, or WADA, handed down the punishment earlier this week, barring Russia as a nation but allowing individuals a chance to apply for the Games as “neutral” athletes.
The nation’s boxing federation, a force on the international scene, said Tuesday that it will not compete under those conditions.
“For us, the most important thing is that our boxers appear under the flag of Russia and the sound of our anthem,” Umar Kremlev, the federation’s general secretary, told state-run news agency RIA Novosti. “Without this, there is no sense in participating.”
The announcement came shortly after President Vladimir Putin confirmed his country would file an appeal with the international Court of Arbitration for Sport.
“Punishment must not be collective, that is, applied to the persons who have no connection to the crime,” Putin told reporters. “If they take decisions on collective punishment, I think this is a reason to believe that these decisions do not seek to keep sports clean but are based on political considerations.”
The WADA sanction stems from a long-running scandal in which Russian athletes, coaches and officials have been caught in an orchestrated doping scheme. Much of the controversy has focused on Russian labs manipulating samples to keep athletes from testing positive.
Athletes and officials from other countries had called for a blanket ban on all Russian competitors.
Instead, individual Russian athletes may participate if they have clean records, have never been implicated in doping investigations and can otherwise persuade authorities they have not cheated.