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WADA Won’t Kick Russia Out Of 2020 Euros For Doping — World Cup May Be Different

Russia lucked out because the Euros aren’t a labeled as a ‘major event.’

The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) on Monday recommended banning Russia from global sports for four years, including a ban on hosting major events. Oddly, any such ban will not affect the Russia Euro 2020 team, because it does not fall under WADA’s “major event” classification. But questions remain about the 2022 World Cup.

Some Russian athletes competed at the 2018 Olympics in neutral uniforms instead of the Russian flag. Such a punishment is likely to be extended at least through the 2020 Tokyo games and possibly the next World Cup as Russia continues to flout antidoping regulations. 

WADA’s compliance review committee (CRC) suggested strong penalties after finding inconsistencies with data from the Moscow testing laboratory, including manipulation of the doping database to delete testing results and fabricate data. Proposed penalties include a ban on hosting or even bidding to host major events, a ban on flying the country’s flag at major events and ban on individuals competing at major events unless they can show they were not involved in the cheating. 

Despite the damning indications of widespread doping in the country, Russia’s soccer team will not be punished in the near term. Russia will be able to compete in and host portions of the 2020 Euros because the UEFA isn’t a “major event organization” under anti-doping regulations. 

This is great news for Russia, which will host group-stage and quarterfinal matches in Saint Petersburg. Russia qualified for the 2020 Euros, to be held in 12 cities across Europe, by finishing second in qualifying Group I behind Belgium and ahead of Scotland. Russia will be in Group B with Belgium and Denmark, though full groups won’t be known until the draw on Saturday. 

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While the Russia Euro 2020 campaign is likely safe, WADA could still ban Russia from the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, as well as the upcoming Olympic and Paralympic games, as those fall under the “major event” category. 

WADA’s executive committee will meet in Paris on Dec. 9 to decide whether to uphold the ban suggested by the CRC. Russia would likely appeal any such ban to the Court of Arbitration for Sport. 

FIFA released a statement on Russia’s possible exclusion from the 2022 World Cup on Tuesday.

“We will await the final considerations of the WADA executive committee on this matter until any potential material decision is taken by FIFA,” the statement read.

Russia has been brazenly cheating for years, both in the world of sports and out, from doping to the invasion of Ukraine and meddling in elections around the world. (Please don’t be one of the media-illiterate numskulls who believe the conspiracy theory that it was Ukraine and not Russia that meddled in the 2016 U.S. election.) Some have considered the proposed WADA punishments too weak given Russia’s continued disregard for world order. Neutrals will hope the penalties are upheld and start forcing Russia to play by the rules. 

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