Athletics: Wada calls Russia ban over doping 'very strong' move

Olivier Niggli is seen during an interview at the World Anti-Doping Agency headquarters on Dec 17, 2020 in Montreal. PHOTO: AFP

MONTREAL (AFP) - By excluding Russia from major international sporting competitions for the next two years over systematic doping, the Court of Arbitration for Sport made a "very strong" move that validates the work of the World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada), its director general Olivier Niggli told AFP.

Niggli offered his thoughts on the issue in an interview, key excerpts of which are below:

Q: Are you satisfied with the decision by the Court of Arbitration for Sport, which did not affirm all of Wada's recommendations against Russia?

A: "We're disappointed that some of our recommendations were not adopted in full. But the majority of them were. At the end of the day, Russia will not be at the Olympics for an entire cycle, meaning a summer and winter games.

(Note: Russian athletes will be able to compete, but only as neutrals if they can prove no connection to doping.)

"Today's decision is much more robust than the one in 2014. In particular, it confirms that the new international standards for compliance that came into force on April 1, 2018 provide a very strong legal framework for these cases.

"This decision confirmed with no reservation the manipulation that took place, and that CAS verified and accepted the allegations drawn up by Wada.

"Wada played its prosecutorial role. It left nothing to chance and we respect the court's decision."

Q: Are you planning to appeal?

A: "At the moment, I don't think this is part of our plan. We will need to review the full judgment before we take a final decision. An appeal is possible in Swiss federal court on a very limited, technical, legal basis.

"For us, what's most important now is to focus our efforts on individual cases where cheating has been alleged that should be pursued. We will follow up with international sporting federations who received what they need to pursue these cases months ago."

Q: Do you think this decision by the CAS will change how USada, which has been very critical of Wada, handles this issue?

A: "I hope that our friends at USada who criticised the process that we followed on the Russian file, will accept that in the end, we have a strong decision against Russia, which allowed us to recover data from Moscow and launch proceedings in individual cases - which would never have been possible if we had not proceeded as we did.

"We have now managed to have sanctions against Russia and the confirmation that we have a strong and robust legal framework to deal with these cases going forward."

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