With the next World Cup scheduled to take place in Qatar in 2022, it appears that the previous host country will not be allowed to compete. The World Doping Agency (WADA) issued a four-year ban on the nation from using its flag, anthem and team names at all major sporting events through 2022. This would include the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo and the 2022 World Cup.
WADA’s executive committee announced their decision in Lausanne, Switzerland after concluding that Russia had tampered with laboratory results by planting fake evidence and deleting files associated with positive doping tests that would have incriminated drug offenders. The Russian Sports Minister Pavel Kolobkov last month attributed the discrepancies to technical issues at their lab but refused to elaborate on the matter.
At this point, Russian athletes would be allowed to compete in any major event provided they test clean for banned substances in an independent lab setting without their flag or anthem for four years, as was the case at the 2018 Olympic events in South Korea. RUSADA (the Russian Anti-Doping Agency) has 21 days in which to appeal the WADA ruling to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), which has overall jurisdiction for all decisions related to sports and is also located in Lausanne. In the past, however, the CAS has taken a hands-off approach on doping matters, and any appeal brought before the Court should be considered unlikely to succeed.
Interestingly, this ban affects only what WADA refers to as a major event, which does not include the Euro 2020 competition currently underway. Russia can continue to take part in that tournament and is a host for several of the matches, including a quarterfinal in St. Petersburg Stadium. But for a country that hosted what is largely viewed as a successful World Cup in 2018, this has to be a blow to Russia’s national pride and prestige.