By Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber
MOSCOW (Reuters) – Russia’s anti-doping agency RUSADA said on Thursday it will appeal sanctions barring the country’s athletes from competing under its flag at top international sporting events within 10 to 15 days, the TASS news agency reported.
The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) earlier in December banned the country’s colors and anthem from events, including the Olympics, for four years as punishment for having provided it with doctored laboratory data.
It also barred Russia from hosting or bidding for major sporting events during that period.
The country’s top officials had branded the sanctions unfair, saying it was part of broader attempts by the West to punish Russia, and had pledged to appeal.
“RUSADA will appeal against the WADA decision within 10 to 15 days,” Alexander Ivlev, chair of RUSADA’s supervisory board, was quoted as saying by TASS.
Yuri Ganus, the head of RUSADA who is not a member of the supervisory board, has said he does not see any chance of winning an appeal.
The case will now be referred to the Court or Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in Switzerland.
U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) CEO Travis Tygart accused Russia of wasting “precious and limited resources in an effort to weasel out of the consequences”.
“Let’s hope CAS has the independence and courage to see through these machinations and finally stand firm and take decisive action that puts in place a complete ban,” Tygart said in a statement.
Russia, which has traditionally been a powerhouse in many sports, has been embroiled in doping scandals since a 2015 WADA report found evidence of mass doping in Russian athletics.
Many of Russia’s athletes were sidelined from the past two Olympics and the country stripped of its flag altogether at last year’s Pyeongchang Winter Games as punishment for state-sponsored doping cover-ups at the 2014 Sochi Games.
(Reporting by Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber and Maxim Rodionov, additional reporting by Amy Tennery in New York, Writing by Alexander Marrow; Editing by Alison Williams and Toby Davis)