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Russian Olympic Committee Will Defend Rights of Athletes to Perform Under National Flag

The Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) will defend the right of Russian athletes to compete in international events under the Russian flag by participating in a dispute between the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA) in the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) as a third party, the committee said in a press release.

It also said the ROC will ask the CAS to clarify the illegality of sanctions and to allow it to fully perform the duties mentioned in the Olympic Charter.

On 9 December 2019, WADA unanimously voted to ban Russia from participating in and hosting any major sporting events over its alleged manipulations and deletions of data in athletes' laboratory test results under WADA investigation. WADA also declared RUSADA non-compliant with the WADA Code. In addition to that, it said that only "clean" Russian athletes could be allowed to perform under a neutral status. 

Commenting on this decision, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that any punishment should be individual and that all Russian athletes should not be punished for the wrongdoings of some.

The scandal broke out in 2016 when the former head of Russia's national anti-doping laboratory Grigory Rodchenkov fled to the US and became WADA's key witness in the case against Russia's national Olympic team over doping allegations. Rodchenkov claimed that during the Sochi Olympics in 2014, a special laboratory was organised to develop and distribute banned substances that would boost the performance of Russian athletes. However, during the Court of Arbitration for Sport hearings in 2018, Rodchenkov withdrew his testimony against the Russian athletes.

© AFP 2019 / Fabrice COFFRINI
International Olympic Committee (IOC) and World Anti Doping Agency (WADA) Sir Craig Reedie member delivers his report on doping during the 131st IOC session in Lima

In December 2019, the Russian Investigative Committee said that it had obtained evidence showing that Rodchenkov had modified doping probes data of Russian athletes in 2015-2016. It added that WADA experts did not allow the Russian investigative body to examine data that contains information on the test results and was provided by Rodchenkov, as well as to question him on the matter.

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