Russia’s sports officials cry foul as WADA eyes four-year Olympic ban

Russia could miss out on the Tokyo Olympics next summer and world championships in a wide range of sports. (AFP/File)
Updated 27 November 2019

Russia’s sports officials cry foul as WADA eyes four-year Olympic ban

  • Russia has made great progress in fighting doping

MOSCOW: Russian sports officials on Tuesday spoke out against a World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) committee’s recommendations that the country be banned from the Olympics for four years, saying this was overly harsh and would hurt sport there.

Russia could miss out on the Tokyo Olympics next summer and world championships in a wide range of sports. WADA’s independent Compliance Review Committee recommended the ban, after Moscow provided WADA with laboratory data that was found to have been doctored.

“It’s sad. I can only call these recommendations unfair,” Umar Kremlev, head of Russia’s boxing federation, said in a statement.

“Russia plays an important role in the development of global sport. How can such a country be banned?“

The committee’s recommendations will be put to the agency’s executive committee at meetings in Paris on Dec. 9.

For Dmitry Svishchev, president of Russia’s curling federation, the country has already sufficiently been punished for its doping scandals.

“These recommendations are harsh, baseless punishment for old problems for which Russia has already been punished,” he told Reuters.

“Russia has made great progress in fighting doping. To punish the next generation in such a harsh manner is too much.”

Russia was banned by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) from last year’s Pyeongchang Winter Games as punishment for alleged state-sponsored doping at the 2014 Sochi Olympics.

But some Russian athletes with no history of doping were cleared to compete as neutrals.Under the latest recommendations of the compliance committee, some Russians without a history of doping could be cleared to compete in major international events as neutrals.

Maxim Agapitov, president of the weightlifting federation, told TASS news agency that keeping Russia away from major international competitions was counterproductive and would not improve the fight against doping.

The committee also recommended barring Russia from hosting major sporting events for four years, and moving major events for which Russia has already won hosting rights elsewhere “unless it is legally or practically impossible to do so.”

Russia is currently set to host the 2023 men’s world ice hockey championship.

St. Petersburg is due to host four matches in the 2020 European championships and was selected to host the Champions League final in 2021. These fixtures may not be affected by a new WADA ban as European football’s organizing body UEFA is not on its list of signatories.

“Given that UEFA is not a WADA signatory and Russian soccer players have not been caught doping, I am 99.9% certain that nothing will happen with the Euro next year,” parliamentarian Igor Lebedev, a former member of the Russian Football Union’s executive committee, was quoted as saying by the Interfax news agency.


Boxing great Pacquiao wants MMA star McGregor fight next year

Updated 26 September 2020

Boxing great Pacquiao wants MMA star McGregor fight next year

  • Bout could be staged in the Middle East after the coronavirus pandemic abates

MANILA: Philippine boxing icon Manny Pacquiao wants to fight Irish mixed martial arts star Conor McGregor in the ring next year, an aide said in a statement Saturday.
“For the sake of all the Filipino COVID-19 victims, Senator Manny Pacquiao will be fighting UFC superstar Conor McGregor next year,” Pacquiao’s special assistant Jayke Joson said, adding negotiations are ongoing.
The fight could be staged in the Middle East after the coronavirus pandemic abates, the aide said, adding Pacquiao would donate a portion of his prize earnings to Filipino COVID-19 victims.
Pacquiao’s promoter Sean Gibbons earlier said in Los Angeles that the eight-division world champion was mulling a possible comeback fight with McGregor, though the two camps were a “long way” from agreement.
Earlier Friday, McGregor, 32, said on Twitter he was “boxing Manny Pacquiao next in the Middle East.”
“It will be a true honor to have faced two of the greatest boxers of the modern era,” McGregor added.
Pacquiao, 41, has not fought since claiming the WBA welterweight crown with a stunning victory over Keith Thurman in Las Vegas in July last year.
A bout against McGregor, who faced welterweight king Floyd Mayweather in a money-spinning 2017 fight, would guarantee Pacquiao another lucrative payday as he nears the end of an illustrious boxing career.
“Our lawyers are finalizing all the confidential details, but both fighters are getting ready for this one epic last boxing fight,” Joson said.
Gibbons said McGregor had shown in his money-spinning fight with welterweight king Floyd Mayweather in 2017 that the Irishman was capable of challenging “the best boxers in the world.”
Pacquiao has successfully combined a political career in the Philippines, where he is an elected senator, while continuing to box at the highest level.
“His main focus right now is to help here and there, providing relief, shelter, money and food, among other necessities,” Joson said.
The virus has infected some 200,000 people in the Philippines and killed more than 5,000.