Russia’s ban from global sports is a punishment rife with politics, analysts told RT. Worse still, political decisions can punish clean athletes, who will be denied the honor of competing for their country.
The World Anti-Doping Agency handed down the ban on Monday, after Russia was alleged to have manipulated data in a Moscow anti-doping laboratory. WADA voted to suspend Russia from all major sporting events for four years in response, meaning the Russian flag will not fly at the next two Olympic Games as well as the FIFA World Cup in Qatar, should Russia qualify.
Clean athletes, however, will be able to compete, albeit under a neutral flag and with no national anthem.
In the runup to the ban, US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) head Travis Tygart had called for even harsher penalties, including a blanket ban on all athletes, even all found to be clean.
The “political element to this cannot be denied,” global affairs analyst Patrick Henningsen told RT. Henningsen sees WADA, like many other international organizations, as biased in favor of its Western (US, UK, Australia, Canada, Germany, France) members.
[It’s] about humiliating Russia, it’s about demoralizing their athletes, [and] It’s also about hurting Vladimir Putin.
“National pride is connected with national sport for any leader of any country,” he added.
Russia’s image will certainly be tarnished by the news, which broke just hours before Putin was due to sit down with French, German, and Ukrainian leaders in Paris, in a bid to resolve the conflict in eastern Ukraine. With the Paris summit being a long-awaited ‘Normandy Format’ meeting – first since 2016 – the stakes are high for all involved.
“It’s bad news for that event,” political analyst Martin McCauley told RT. “The newspapers will concentrate on this and not on the Normandy event.” Likewise, the emergence of the news so close to the summit will likely give ample fodder to journalists quizzing Putin after the meetings conclude.