MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia will learn later on Monday whether it will be hit with a four-year Olympic ban for tampering with doping-related laboratory data, a decision local officials have said they fear may not be taken fairly.
Russia, which has tried to showcase itself as a global sports power, has been embroiled in doping scandals since a 2015 report commissioned by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) found evidence of mass doping in Russian athletics.
Its doping woes have grown since, with many of its athletes sidelined from the past two Olympics and the country stripped of its flag altogether at last year’s Pyeongchang Winter Games as punishment for state-sponsored doping cover-ups at the 2014 Sochi Games.
In focus this time are findings from WADA which concluded that Moscow had tampered with laboratory data by planting fake evidence and deleting files linked to positive doping tests that could have helped identify drug cheats.
Sports Minister Pavel Kolobkov last month attributed the discrepancies in the laboratory data to technical issues.
WADA’s executive committee will convene in Lausanne later on Monday to decide how to respond to the issue.
It will rule on whether to ban the country from hosting major sporting events for four years and whether to force its clean athletes to compete without their flag or anthem for the same period.
The recommendations for punishment it will examine do not include a blanket ban on Russian participation in international sport, however, and leave the door open for clean Russian athletes to compete at major international sporting events as neutrals, as was the case during the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics.
RUSADA, Russia’s anti-doping agency RUSADA could be stripped of its accreditation for the second time in four years as part of the same doping sanctions.
Reporting by Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber; Editing by Andrew Osborn
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