USADA chief calls for 'tougher' punishments for Russian athletes

MOSCOW, RUSSIA - NOVEMBER 26, 2019: The building of the Russian Olympic Committee. The World Anti-Doping Agency's (WADA) compliance review committee is proposing a new series of recommendations to ban Russia's participation in sporting events for four years. Alexander Shcherbak/TASS (Photo by Alexander Shcherbak\TASS via Getty Images)
USADA calls for all Russian athletes to face Olympic bans. (Credit: Getty Images)

The chief of the US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) has said doping repercussions “must get tougher” and all Russian athletes should be banned from competing in the Olympics.

A ruling from the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) recommended that Russia should be banned from hosting major sporting events for four years. The country’s co-hosting status for their Euro 2020 games hangs in the balance and Russia could also face disqualification from the Tokyo Olympics.

“WADA must get tougher and impose the full restriction on Russian athlete participation in the Olympics that the rules allow,” said USADA chief Travis Tygart.

“Only such a resolute response has a chance of getting Russia's attention, changing behaviour, and protecting today's clean athletes who will compete in Tokyo.

“As well as future generations of athletes in Russia who deserve better than a cynical, weak response to the world's repeated calls for Russia to clean up its act.”

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The Russia Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA) was declared “non-compliant” by WADA’s compliance review committee (CRC) after review of inconsistent samples from the Moscow laboratory.

The CRC has announced several other “strong proposed consequences”, including Russia’s ban from bidding to host the 2032 Olympic and Paralympic games. The committee has also said the Russian flag is not to be flown during any major sporting event whilst the four-year ban is active.

“It is sad when a country's athletes suffer for the fraud of the governmental and sport system they represent,” commented Tygart.

“However, the failure to stand up to Russia's five-year flaunting of the rules would cause even more harm to athletes in and outside of Russia. The time for the toughest penalty available is now.”

LAUSANNE, SWITZERLAND - MARCH 21, 2018: Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA) Director General Yuri Ganus (on screen) speaks during the 2018 WADA Annual Symposium. The symposium is to discuss if the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA) is compliant with the World Anti-Doping Code. Mikhail Japaridze/TASS (Photo by Mikhail Japaridze\TASS via Getty Images)
RUSADA director Yuri Ganus speaks (Credit: Getty Images)

If Russia receive a blanket ban, the four-year period would begin “on the date on which the decision that RUSADA is non-compliant becomes final”.

Russia are still currently banned from competing in athletics events after a decision made by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) in 2015.

“Russia continues to flaunt the world's anti-doping rules, kick clean athletes in the gut and poke WADA in the eye and get away with it time and time again,” added Tygart.

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RUSADA’s compliance status was reinstated just over 12 months ago but the country is now in the centre of more doping regulation breaches.

“We are plunging, for the next four years, into a new phase of Russia's doping crisis,” said head of RUSADA Yury Ganus. “We need to push through real changes, We need new sports leaders.”

WADA’s executive committee will meet in Paris on December 9 to discuss the recommendation and come up with a final decision.

Tygart concluded that WADA “should be applauded” for revealing this latest doping crime but implores that the International Olympic Committee (IOC) must take action against Russia to avoid other countries “following in their footsteps”.

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