Russian riders will not be allowed to compete under their nation’s flag at Tokyo 2020 as a result of a ban from the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA).
Russia has been banned for four years from competing in Olympics, Paralympics, Youth Olympics, World Championships and “any other event organised by a major event organisation”.
The unanimous decision by WADA’s executive committee was announced on Monday (9 December) and concerns the Russian doping scandal.
In equestrian disciplines and sports involving horses, the country has a dressage team spot, two individual eventing places and two individual modern pentathlete places at next year’s Games. The team and individual qualifying places for para dressage have not yet been finalised, neither have the final individual spots for dressage and showjumping.
Athletes, including riders, who have a clean doping record will still be allowed to compete at major games, including Tokyo 2020, but under a neutral flag.
A statement from the Russian equestrian federation (FKSR) states: “The Russians have no cases that entailed the suspension or disqualification according to the WADA code in the Olympic disciplines of equestrian sports.
“Currently, the FKSR is in constant working contact with the FEI leadership to ensure the participation of Russian athletes in all international competitions.”
Russia can now either choose to dispute the decision within 21 days, meaning it will be referred to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), or it can accept WADA’s decision and the sanctions that go with it.
An FEI spokesman told H&H on Monday (9 December) that it is “not in a position to speculate” on the impact on international equestrian competitions.
“[The] decision by the WADA executive committee will only come into effect on the date on which either RUSADA [the Russian Anti-Doping Agency] accepts it or, if it is appealed to CAS, when CAS rules on it, including a ruling on its implementation,” she said.
“Until that time, we are not in a position to speculate on what this will mean for FEI events as the guidelines for implementation have not yet been established.”
However the international governing body, which held its general assembly in Moscow last month, sent a further statement this morning (10 December) backing the decision.
“As a signatory to the WADA code, the FEI fully supports the decision by the WADA executive committee to declare RUSADA non-compliant with the WADA code for a period of four years, and also the resulting consequences and conditions for reinstatement,” added the spokesman.
“The fact that the WADA executive committee unanimously endorsed the recommendations of the independent compliance review committee sends a very strong signal to the sporting world.
“While it is clear that those who opt to cheat must be punished, the sports world has a duty to protect clean athletes. To preserve the rights of the clean athletes and to support [the riders], we will test them as we did before Rio 2016 in order to provide the necessary evidence that they are clean.”
* What do you think of the decision? Do you think it’s fair that athletes who haven’t had any positive tests are being affected by this ruling? Let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org and your thoughts could be published in a future issue of Horse & Hound magazine *
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