Courtesy Reid Carlson
Tomorrow, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) is expected to declare Russia non-compliant, casting doubt on Russia’s chances to participate in the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, which begin February 9th.
The Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA) has not met the standards WADA has set that would permit for its reinstatement. Namely, WADA wants access to the Moscow Anti-Doping Center to re-test historical samples and an apology for the Russian government’s involvement in the state-sponsored doping scheme revealed by the McLaren Report in 2016.
No apology from the Russian government has been issued since such an action would also implicate Russian President Vladimir Putin, while the Moscow Anti-Doping Center also remains without accreditation from WADA, and is currently inaccessible due to a “federal investigation.” If WADA were to vote to keep RUSADA suspended it would send a clear message to the IOC that WADA does not wish to see Russia represented at the 2018 Winter Olympics.
The IOC will vote whether or not to allow Russian participation in the 2018 Winter Games on December 5th. However, the IOC fear that if they do vote to reinstate Russia it will serve as an endorsement of Putin, who is expected to run for re-election in March 2018.
While Russian athletes such as Yulia Efimova and Vlad Morozov were allowed to compete in the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, and have since competed in numerous FINA events, many other Russian athletes remain suspended by WADA.
WADA recently announced that it obtained a database of over 1,000 Russian athletescompeting in 30 sports that benefited from the state-sponsored doping scheme Russia operated between 2012 and 2015. The database, which further evidences the information presented in the McLaren Report, makes it more difficult for WADA to vote in favor of Russian representation in Pyeongchang.
Even if the Russian flag does not fly in South Korea next February, some Russian athletes would still have the opportunity to compete. However, instead of representing Russia those athletes would compete under a neutral flag, likely the Olympic flag. This was the case for Russian athletes competing at the 2017 IAAF Championships in London, despite the Russian Athletics Federation remaining suspended by the IAAF.