How Russian Athletes Are Still Taking Part in the 2020 Olympics despite Russia Having Been Banned

Despite a ban on their country, Russian sportspersons are competing in the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo. However, they cannot use their country’s name, anthem, and flag. The 335-strong Russian Athletes is participating under the banner of ROC, standing for Russian Olympic Committee under a flag different from the official Russian flag. This unprecedented step is because Russia, traditionally one of the world’s top sporting countries, has been “ban” from the Olympics

Why Was Russia Banned From the Olympics?

Russia was getting accused by investigators and whistleblowers for a long time of running a sophisticated doping program for athletes. Many international sports federations stopped Russian athletes from participating in major events. However, after several investigations, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) lifted the sanctions in September 2018 after forcing Russia to agree to hand over athlete performance data to doping regulators. Examination of the data would help to identify the athletes who had used unfair tactics to win in various sports. However, subsequently, Russia accuses of manipulating the data, and the WADA banned the country from competing in international events for four years in December 2019. Among the events, the ban prevented Russia from participating in the Tokyo Olympics and the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

The Story As It Developed

Vitaly, a former employee of the Russian Anti-Doping Agency, RUSADA, and his wife, Yulia Stepanova, an 800-meter runner, went on record in a German documentary in 2014 regarding sports doping program in Russia. A couple of years later, the New York Times published a damning report quoting Grigory Rodchenkov, a former head of the RUSADA about the state-sponsored doping program. The report details how members of Russian anti-doping and secret services substitute urine samples of the athletes being test at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics through a hole in the wall of a laboratory guarding by the country’s state security. Following this expose, WADA along with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and other international sporting federations launched investigations.

What Happened Next

The 2014 revelations resulted in the suspension of the accreditation of Russia’s anti-doping lab in 2015. As many as 111 athletes, including the entire track and field team. From the 389-strong Russian contingent for the Rio Olympics, where removing them after the preliminary investigations. After a more thorough investigation. The IOC recommended a ban on Russian participation in the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea. However, following dispensations from several international sports federations, 168 athletes permitting to take part. The Russian Olympic Committee did not have the allowance to attend the event. And the Russian flag did not permit to displaying at any of the sporting venues. All the Russian athletes had to wear neutral uniforms printed with the words “Olympic Athlete from Russia”.

The Current Status

The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in 2020 halved the ban to two years with the proviso that no Russian team can take part in events. Which were organized by any WADA signatory until December 16, 2022. It means that there will be no official Russian participation in the 2020 Summer Olympics. And the upcoming Winter Olympics in Beijing, and the Paralympics in Tokyo.