LAUSANNE, Switzerland — Global anti-doping leaders agreed unanimously Monday to banish Russia from international sports — including next summer’s Olympic Games in Tokyo — for four years, the latest and severest punishment yet connected to a years-long cheating scheme that has tarnished global sport.
The World Anti-Doping Agency’s punishment means that Russia’s flag, name and anthem will not be allowed at the Tokyo Games, although athletes not implicated in doping could compete under a neutral flag. The agency also barred Russian sports and government officials from the games and prohibited the country from hosting international events.
The move, which comes four years after the first details of the scheme that peaked at the 2014 Sochi Olympics were made public, was hailed by WADA as a tough step, although some anti-doping leaders questioned that.
“For too long, Russian doping has detracted from clean sport,” WADA president Craig Reedie said at news conference. “Russia was afforded every opportunity to get its house in order and rejoin the global anti-doping community for the good of its athletes and of the integrity of sport, but it chose instead to continue in its stance of deception and denial.”
To some, including many athlete groups and national anti-doping agencies, the punishment does not go far enough, because it leaves open the possibility that hundreds of Russian athletes can appear in Tokyo, just as they did at the Winter Olympics in South Korea last year.
Russia is almost certain to contest the decision. It continues to steadfastly deny many of the allegations, even after several independent investigations that have revealed a welter of evidence against it.
Russian officials have 21 days to lodge an appeal with the Swiss-based Court of Arbitration for Sport after the announcement from the anti-doping agency, which convened for a special meeting near the International Olympic Committee’s headquarters in Lausanne.
The Russian prime minister, Dmitry Medvedev, encouraged an appeal, saying that the anti-doping agency’s decision looked to him like a “continuation of anti-Russian hysteria.”
But he offered a concession.
“The Russian side, too, — by that I mean our sports community — still has significant problems with doping,” he said. “This is undeniable.”