The CEO of the US Anti-Doping Agency, Travis Tygart, has dismissed the punishment handed down for Russia’s state sponsored doping program as a “farce”.
The World Anti-Doping Agency has banned official Russian teams from Tokyo 2020, the 2022 Winter Olympics and the 2022 World Cup as a punishment for covering up a massive state-sponsored doping programme. The country’s flag and anthem are banned too. However, Russian athletes can still compete as neutrals – in both individual and team events – if they have not been banned for doping. The Wada ban was originally four years before it was halved by the court of arbitration for sport last year.
The issue came to the fore again on Friday in Tokyo after US swimmer Ryan Murphy finished second to the Russian Evgeny Rylov in the 200m backstroke final. Murphy said he was not accusing Rylov specifically of doping but added: “It is a huge mental drain to go through the year knowing that I’m swimming in a race that’s probably not clean, and that is what it is.”
Britain’s Luke Greenbank, who won bronze in the 200m backstroke, said: “It’s obviously a very difficult situation not knowing whether who you are racing against is clean.”
On Friday Tygart told Yahoo Sports that “all are presumed innocent unless and until proven otherwise.” However, he added that: “All can now see this ‘ban’ once again for the farce that it is. It is barely a ‘rebrand’ and will do nothing to stop the corruption in Russia and likely will embolden others willing to win by any means.”
Tygart believes that the punishment was not harsh enough and it allowed Russia “to make a mockery of the Games by their thirst for medals over values.”
For its part, Russia has dismissed those claims. On Friday the Russian Olympic Committee tweeted a photo of Murphy and Greenback, along with a statement.
“How unnerving our victories are for some of our colleagues,” the statement said. “Yes, we are here at the Olympics. Whether someone likes it or not. The old barrel organ started the song about Russian doping again. English-language propaganda, oozing with verbal sweat in the Tokyo heat. Through the mouths of athletes offended by defeats. We will not console you. Forgive us those who are weaker. God is their judge. And for us – an assistant.”