Football World Cup 2022 in Qatar. The Russian selection stands arm in arm on the pitch. In red shirts with the name »Russia« on the back, white trousers, blue socks. There is no sound from the stadium speakers, but the team, thousands of fans waving Russia flags in the stands and President Vladimir Putin in the noble box are singing their own anthem loudly. It does not work? Did the International Sports Court rule out Cas this week? Very well – thanks to the many new loopholes!
In the first hours after the verdict was announced on Thursday, the headlines in countless Internet articles had suggested that Russia’s sport had been hit hard, after all, he was banned from the Olympic Games and World Championships for two years. But anyone who knows the original verdict of the World Anti-Doping Agency Wada and the underlying facts and then reads the Cas statement more closely, inevitably comes to the conclusion that Russia got away with two blue eyes. If you don’t believe that, you just have to read how Mikhail Buchanow, head of the Russian anti-doping agency Rusada, assessed the CAS judgment: “It’s a victory for Russia.”
The Russians did not get an acquittal after the biggest doping scandal in sports history. You have to pay the Wada just over a million euros. Your flag may not be hoisted at world championships or the Olympics until the end of 2022, and the anthem may not be officially played. Government representatives are not allowed to enter the stadiums and Russian athletes are only allowed to compete as “neutral athletes”. But all this was already in the Wada ruling, which had imposed these sentences on the Russians for four years. The Cas has now hollowed it out vigorously.
First of all, there is the flag: The new ruling says that no organizer can be punished if he does nothing against fans who bring Russian flags into the stadium. In addition, athletes can again wear uniforms in the colors of the flag. What about the anthem? Unless otherwise stated in the as yet unpublished verdict, no athlete will be punished for singing the anthem on the podium himself, as the 2018 Olympic ice hockey champions did in Pyeongchang. Incidentally, they were clearly recognizable as Russians with the label “Olympic Athlete from Russia”. According to Wada, this should not happen again, but the CAS allows the country name to be used again on jerseys, as long as it is not larger than the addition “Neutral Athlete”.
The athletes’ initiative Global Athlete reacted in shock: “This decision hits clean athletes again in the face. The fact that Russian athletes are allowed to start as ›Neutral Athletes from Russia‹ is a farce and mocks the system. Russia was not banned, it was only renamed. «Tatiana Pokrovskaja, national coach of the synchronized swimmers, summed it up aptly:» When our athletes are on top of the podium, everyone will know that they are Russians. And probably some athletes will sing the anthem too. “
Even the ban on members of the government up to President Putin has been relaxed. If the host country invites him or other ministers, they are allowed into the arenas. Qatar’s Emir Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani and Putin have met often in recent years and not only talked about investments in Russia, but also about the 2022 World Cup. An invitation from the emir to Putin would not come as a surprise.
In theory, the sanctions could be extended. After all, the Russians are supposed to help find the manipulated data from the Moscow doping control laboratory. However, in recent years the Rusada and Russia’s Ministry of Sports had argued that everything was just a mistake by an overzealous system administrator and that the data had unfortunately been deleted forever. According to the current judgment, nothing should change in this type of cooperation.
In an initial reaction, Wada tried to strike a Solomonic middle course: “The judges followed our assessment that Russian authorities had brazenly and illegally manipulated data in order to cover up an institutionalized doping plan,” said Wada President Witold Banka. “Nevertheless, we are disappointed that the Cas did not bear all of our consequences for four years. Nevertheless, they are still the toughest sanctions ever imposed on a country for doping offenses. “
Many individual athletes have been punished for just one positive test for a long time. Russia, on the other hand, gets off lightly, even though there has been massive amounts of doping, hundreds of positive cases covered up, thousands of data manipulated and misleading evidence laid. “It was a state sponsored conspiracy against the values of sport. It stole the hope of medals and the opportunity to build careers for clean athletes, ”wrote UK Anti-Doping Authority Chair Nicole Sapstead. “A more serious rule violation is difficult to imagine, so I don’t understand the halving of the penalty.”
Russia’s sports officials, on the other hand, celebrated that those athletes who have never been convicted of doping can now start again. And they are by no means all clean. So far, it was enough for a start ban if investigators proved that their samples had been destroyed or their data manipulated. The Cas has now apparently also tipped that. A system precisely designed to cover up fraud and protect dopers will be rewarded.