MOSCOW: Russia on Friday formally contested a four-year ban from major sporting events over doping violations that President Vladimir Putin has condemned as “unjust,” the head of its RUSADA anti-doping agency said.
“In accordance with established procedure, today we have sent a package of documents to the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA),” RUSADA director general Yury Ganus told reporters in Moscow.
“The package contains a notice about disagreement with WADA sanctions.”
Ganus, who has long argued for a major crackdown by Russia against doping cheats, warned that the legal challenge could backfire, however.
The formal statement of disagreement with WADA will trigger an appeal process against the ban at the Lausanne-based Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).
WADA confirmed on Friday in a statement it had received the RUSADA package and would promptly refer the matter to the CAS, whose decision will be final and binding for all involved.
Ganus, whose rigorous stance puts him at odds with his own government and supervisory board, argues that Moscow needs to accept the sanctions and own up to its faults in order to be able to reform.
He, however, said he was obliged to relay the position of the supervisory board.
He said he also sent a letter to WADA informing the anti-doping agency of his personal stance.
“I regret to inform you that all my attempts, including attempts to introduce changes to the RUSADA notice, have failed,” said the letter.
Ganus told AFP on Thursday that “it is practically impossible” to contest the ban.
WADA this month banned Russia for four years from major global events, including the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, over manipulated doping data.
Under the sanctions, Russians will still be allowed to compete, but only as neutrals and if they can demonstrate that they were not part of what WADA believes was a state-sponsored system of doping.
Putin has called the sanctions politically motivated, indicating a lengthy legal battle loomed.
He argued that the majority of Russian athletes were clean and should not be deprived of the right to compete under the Russian flag due to the actions of some individuals.
Outgoing WADA president Craig Reedie said the organisation “remains convinced that it made the right decision on Dec 9,” when the ban was officially instituted.
“The proposed consequences are tough on the Russian authorities while robustly protecting the integrity of clean sport around the world,” he said. “We will defend that decision with the utmost vigor at CAS.” — AFP