Russian sports minister Oleg Matytsin has stated that in wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, international sporting authorities should “turn a new page” and forget on their recent suspension the World Anti-Doping Agency’s four-year ban from international competition. The ban was announced back in December 2019, barring Russia from competing at any major international sporting event for a four year period. Russian athletes who have not been found guilty of doping are still able to compete unattached.
With the Russian Anti-Doping Association having disputed the allegation, the next step in the process was a hearing by Court for Arbitration for Sport. Those hearings, however, have been delayed in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. CAS has previously announced that they will not be hosting in-person hearings until May 1, 2020, at the earliest and depending on the evolution of the COVID-19 outbreak, the prohibition of in-person hearings may be extended.”
With the fate of the trial dates still in flux, Matytsin thinks that the Russian sporting community should be given leeway and that the sanction as stands would damage the Olympic movement.
More from Matytsin’s statement:
- “The leaders of the International Olympic Committee, the World Anti-Doping Agency and the judges who will decide the ruling should understand that now we’re living in completely different conditions and this crisis which has been created, including the crisis in relationships, should probably come to an end, turn a new page and understand that the main thing right now is to be together,”
- “When you see that everyone is isolated and everyone is at home, the consciousness changes, the mentality changes and people understand that now there are priorities and there are issues which go on the backburner,”
- “The priority is the future of the Olympic movement, it’s the consolidation of the whole international sporting community.”
Matytsin is not the first member of Russia’s sporting community to speak out about Russia’s ban. Russian gymnast and Olympic gold medalist Svetlana Khorkina said of the pandemic “I think this all happened because they shouldn’t have offended Russia, including our athletes, there is a reason why there is a line in our national anthem that says our land is protected by the Lord.”
Should CAS uphold the ban, Russia will be ineligible to compete as a nation at the ‘Tokyo 2020’ Games, set to be held from July 23 – August 8, 2021. Along with these Games, the Russian Federation will also be barred from competing at any international competitions slated for the next four years including 2020 Short Course Worlds in Abu Dhabi in December, and 2021 Long Course Worlds in Fukuoka, Japan. Certain Russian athletes would still be allowed to compete at the Tokyo Olympics, however, under a neutral flag.