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Editorial: WADA decision is the high price Russia must pay for doping scandal

  • December 11, 2019
  • , The Japan News , 7:35 p.m.
  • English Press
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As long as Russia continued its alleged wrongdoing over doping, it was inevitable for the country to face severe punishment.


The World Anti-Doping Agency has decided to slap Russia with a four-year ban from international sports events. Russia will not be represented at major athletic events, including the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics.


The punishment has been imposed for alleged acts of organized tampering with data in connection with doping tests. In 2015, WADA suspended the Russian anti-doping agency from functioning as a test organization in the wake of a scandal involving the country’s track and field athletes. The anti-doping watchdog later determined that the wrongdoing included actions led by the Russian government.


WADA lifted the suspension on the Russian anti-doping agency last year, on condition that it submit doping inspection data compiled before 2015. This year, WADA found there were several hundred cases in which some of that data had been deleted or tampered with.


Russia’s lack of ability to clean itself up can be regarded as nothing but appalling.


Russian President Vladimir Putin expressed dissatisfaction with the WADA ruling and announced a plan to file a complaint with the Court of Arbitration for Sport. But what should be done instead is to make a clean sweep of the environment for doping and try to improve the anti-doping structure.


In connection with Russia’s participation in the Olympic Games, WADA recommended the country’s exclusion from the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games but the International Olympic Committee left the decision on whether to allow participation in the hands of individual athletic organizations. As a result, Russia’s participation was allowed for many sports events.


This weak-kneed stance was criticized, which led to the IOC banning Russia from being represented at the Winter Games held last year in Pyeongchang, South Korea. After the Pyeongchang Games, WADA’s decisions were made binding, requiring the IOC and other international athletic organizations to abide by them.


Doping, the act of enhancing one’s athletic capabilities via the use of a substance, undermines the spirit of fair play that is the basis of sports. The latest WADA ruling can be said to represent a strong international determination not to allow doping to spread.


If they do not test positive for doping, Russian athletes will be given a chance, as they were at the Pyeongchang Games, to compete in major events in an individual capacity. It is necessary to give consideration to athletes who have been cleared of doping. Strict criteria should be compiled for participation in major international sports events, as a Russian athlete who took part in the 2018 Winter Games as an “Olympic athlete from Russia” tested positive for doping.


IOC President Thomas Bach said he hopes Tokyo 2020 will be as clean as possible. He said the IOC will carry out a large-scale anti-doping program, including the investment of up to ¥1.1 billion to conduct pre-Games tests for doping.


Global attention will be focused on whether the Tokyo Games will be able to steer clear of doping issues. The Tokyo Organizing Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games must implement all possible measures, including securing the personnel necessary for conducting doping tests.

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