Russia Doping Sanctions ‘Mandatory’, Says IOC Boss, If WADA Imposes Four More Years Of Pain

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The doping sanctions recommended for Russia in the latest fallout in a deep doping scandal systematic in nature and including cheating at an Olympic Games right under the nose of testers in an official laboratory are “mandatory” and must be observed,  Thomas Bach, president of the International Olympic Committee, declared today.

The Compliance Review Committee of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) have urged anti-doping bosses to ban Russia from hosting major sports events for four years and ban the nation’s flag from use at the Olympics and other big championships.

WADA bosses meet on Monday to review that recommendation. Today, Bach sent a clear message that the IOC would not stand in the way of any decision, which would be “mandatory”.

A WADA expert panel concluded Russian authorities manipulated a Moscow laboratory database – removing details of positive tests and planting tampered evidence – before handing it over to investigators in January.

When the WADA panel delivered its report and recommendations last week, the IOC called the ”flagrant manipulation “an insult to the sporting movement’.’

Asked at a news conference after chairing a three-day board meeting on Thursday, if the IOC must accept the WADA executive committee’s sanction decisions, Bach replied:

“They are mandatory. The IOC has in the Olympic Charter accepted the World Anti-Doping Code and if there is a decision being issued, it is mandatory.”

One loophole of the WADA recommended sanctions is exemptions allowing Russia to host when ”it is legally or practically impossible” to strip hosting rights.

On Saturday – after the WADA recommendations were published, and nine days before the pending sanctions decision – Lausanne-based SportAccord said the May 2021 edition of its week-long convention would be in Ekaterinburg, Russia. That kind of highly politicised event is beyond the scope of WADA sanctions.

As the Associate Press noted today:

The four-man SportAccord executive committee includes a close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin, businessman Arkady Rotenberg, and Francesco Ricci Bitti, a former IOC member who is an Olympic delegate to the WADA ruling panel which decides Russia’s fate on Monday.

Bach said any potential conflict of interest for Ricci Bitti would need to be addressed by WADA rules.

WADA did not immediately respond to a request to clarify Ricci Bitti’s position.

In the latest defense of Russian interests on Thursday, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said the government ordered its sports officials ”to fight for our interests” in the WADA process.

That official position stands in stark contrast to another, Yuri Ganus, the head of the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA), has said the expected sanctions ”were to be expected, and they’re justified.’