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WADA the what?

The World Anti-Doping Agency wanted to hammer Russia hard. The Court of Arbitration for Sport chose to be kinder. Sort of.

The CAS announced on Thursday a multi-layered set of sanctions against Russia amid accusations the country operated a complex scheme to hide doping of its elite athletes.

AFP outlines the sanctions, which the news agency reports drew generally favorable responses in Moscow.

Speaking to reporters on Thursday, the Russian Olympic Committee’s president Stanislav Pozdnyakov expressed satisfaction that CAS had not “collectively” banned Russia’s athletes, who will still be able to participate under a neutral flag if they prove no connection to doping.

Mikhail Bukhanov, acting head of the country’s anti-doping agency RUSADA, said: “Today’s results are a victory for Russia.”

However, one element of CAS’ ruling drew condemnation inside Russia: Russian president Vladimir Putin may not attend the Olympics during the ban.

The Associated Press reports there is one workaround to this sanction.

The ruling does allow Russian government officials, including President Vladimir Putin, to attend major sporting events if invited by the host nation’s head of state.

I don’t know what pressure the leaders of Japan (host of next summer’s postponed 2020 Summer Olympics) and China (host of the 2022 Winter Olympics) will be under to invite Putin, but it would be odd to see multiple world leaders in Tokyo or Beijing while Putin remained home.

WADA’s lust to derail Russia’s participation in the Olympics and other major international sport events for now might now have reached the end stage. But one can expect the enthusiasm to lay down further sanctions will not go away.