The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) have issued Russia with a four-year blanket ban from international sporting competition, meaning they will not be able to compete at the World Cup or either of the next two Olympic games.
Expert advisers had been urged to take a hard line with their punishment following ongoing doping allegations, and a lengthy ban has now been dished out.
Russia will have 21 days to appeal the huge ban, which will not apply to next summer’s European Championship, which Russia have qualified for and will host matches in St Petersburg
UEFA is not defined as a ‘major event organisation’ with regards to anti-doping breaches, meaning Russia are free to compete at Euro 2020.
Nonetheless, the news will come as a huge blow to the football team, who hosted the last World Cup in 2018 and made it to the quarter-finals, knocking Spain out along the way.
Despite the suspension, WADA vice-president Linda Helleland told reporters on Monday that the ban was ‘not enough’.
‘I wanted sanctions that can not be watered down. We owe it to the clean athletes to implement the sanctions as strongly as possible.’
The International Olympic Committee have said they would be willing to allow Russian athletes who can prove they are clean to compete under a neutral flag, as at last year’s Pyeongchang Winter Olympics.
The number of Russian athletes in who competed under the neutral banner at the 2018 Games in South Korea was 168, after the country was banned following their hosting of the 2014 Games in Sochi.
Russia had been braced for serious sanctions after a joint statement from WADA’s influential athletes’ committee urged tough steps to tackle the problem of doping.
WADA president Craig Reedie was firm in his opinion on Russia’s stance since the doping allegations came to light.
‘Russia was afforded every opportunity to get its house in order and rejoin the global anti-doping community for the good of its athletes and of the integrity of sport,’ said Reedie.
‘But it chose instead to continue in its stance of deception and denial.’
Nine members of the 17-strong group, including chair Beckie Scott, and British former Paralympian Vicki Aggar, said such a step was ‘the only meaningful sanction’.
‘We maintain that the fraud, manipulation and deception revealed to date will only be encouraged and perpetuated with a lesser response,’ the statement read.
Until these critical abuses of integrity in sport are confronted with courage and a resolute commitment to protect athletes and clean sport, they will continue, and the sports we love remain tarnished.’