The decision of the CAS, the Supreme Court in sport, to suspend Russia for a period of four years, but for two years because of large-scale doping use calls for mixed reactions.
WADA World Anti-Doping Agency, which wanted to exclude Russia for four years, welcomes the judges in the appeal case that it is now unquestionably established that Russia has frauded. Nevertheless, the WADA regrets that the penalty has been halved.
Russia is often relieved, the US anti-doping agency Usada is disappointed and speaks of a weak statement. But what exactly has been decided? Five questions on the statement of the CAS.
Why is the penalty cut in half?
That question is still unanswered. The ruling consists of 186 pages, but only a five-page summary has been made public.
Professor of sport and law Marjan Olfers therefore has her question marks. “We will have to wait until all the considerations of the CAS are announced, but my experience is that they do not motivate the statements very little.”
“ However, it is true that punishment usually covers an Olympic cycle, that is the case now. However, it is strange that the CAS recognizes that Russia was wrong, but nevertheless halves the penalty. You have to have really good arguments for that.”
“ It is also crazy that an individual athlete is suspended for four years in the event of a doping violation, and a country that violates the rules has now only been suspended for two years.”
Which Russian athletes are allowed to play sports?
The pronunciation seems clear, Russian athletes are allowed to participate in competitions if they are not mentioned in doping cases and can prove that they have undergone enough tests.
For World Championships and for the first two Olympic Games, they are only allowed to enter under a neutral flag. But thats the theory, the practice is unruly.
All sports federations are allowed to decide how to deal with the ruling and many unions are still deliberating. Whether, for example, Russian skaters can participate in international tournaments early next year is still unclear.
World Athletics, the international athletics federation, has been the strictest so far. Russian athletes are only allowed to enter international athletics tournaments once the Russian Athletics Federation is reinstated in favor of World Athletics.
In this case, a maximum of 10 Russian athletes who train and are controlled abroad may participate under neutral flag.
The line of the International Ice Hockey League, on the other hand, is the other extreme. That union had already allocated the World Ice Hockey World Cup of 2023 to Russia in 2019 and now that the penalty has been halved, the tournament continues.
What does the suspension mean for football?
Part of the European Championship, coming summer, will be finished (partly) in Russia. St. Petersburg is, and remains, one of the twelve playing cities. The punishment for Russia applies to large unions and, according to WADA rules, UEFA is not a major global union.
And so it was up to UEFA to decide whether St Petersburg could remain a playtown.
According to the ruling, Russia is allowed to play the qualifying duels for the World Cup in the autumn of 2022 as a Russian team, with a Russian shirt and a Russian flag. But when they qualify, they play the final tournament in Qatar under neutral flag.
Can you tell the neutral athlete if he or shes from Russia?
The only thing that is really forbidden is the Russian flag and the playing of the national anthem, that is what the athlete organization Global Athlete is angry about. They think the verdict is a black day for sport. A shirt may have Russian colors, and even the word “Russia” may be on it. As long as there is the word neutral athlete on it in equally large letters.
Is Russia actually being punished?
Yes, because Russia is now as a country is officially punished by the highest court in sport because of large-scale malpractice, a unique decision.
But the way in which many athletes and anti-doping organisations are frustrated, and Marjan Olfers understands that. “It should be purely legal, but you can see by the whole run-up and by the whole process that it has become political.”
“ Now I find it hard to judge how independent it all is. And now that the penalty has been halved, for example, you cannot rule out Russias candidate for the 2034 Olympics. We may not want it, but we can.”