The World Anti-Doping Agency, whose executive committee meets in Lausanne on Monday, is set to punish Russia’s complicity in a state-sponsored doping programme with a new four-year ban on Russian sportsmen and women.
It is likely to present more difficulties for Russian athletes wanting to compete on the world stage and for federations who are planning to stage events in a country that has often been a welcoming haven for some of the world’s less wealthy sports.
However, football and Formula One events in Russia would be exempt.
Here is what the ban would mean for Russia in more details:
Russia would be banned for four years from the Olympic and Paralympic Summer and Winter Games. That rules an official Russian team out of Tokyo 2020 and the Beijing Winter Olympics of 2022.
It would mean Russian competitors who have proved themselves above doping suspicion would have to compete under the ‘neutral’ Olympic flag. That was the case at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, when 168 Russians took part in 15 sports.
Beyond that, there would be no official Russian team at the 2020 summer and winter Youth Winter Olympics.
They would also be barred from all other multi-sport competitions such as the European Games and the Universiade as well as any world championship organised by any of the signatories of the World Anti-Doping Code, which includes the International Olympic Sports Federations.
Russian athletes and their coaches would only be allowed to attend these competitions if they demonstrate that they have nothing to do with the institutional doping system put in place in the country between 2011 and 2015.
In this case, they would again compete under the Olympic rather than the Russian flag.
No official or representative of the Russian government would be allowed at these events, including the president and the top officials of the Russian Olympic and Paralympic Committees.
For four years, Russia would not be permitted to host or submit a bid to host any of the events listed above.
On top of that Russia would not be able to become a candidate to host the 2032 Summer Olympics whether or not the bidding process falls within the four-year window.
Any competition that has already been awarded to Russia which is scheduled to take place during the four-year ban must be withdrawn and reassigned unless, according to Wada, “it is impossible to do so from a legal or practical point of view”.
Clarification will be required regarding federations which are unwilling to review their plans, notably the 2022 World Men’s Volleyball Championships and the 2023 Summer Universiade which are both scheduled for the Russian city of Yekaterinburg.
Questions will also be asked about the Wrestling Worlds which are planned for Krasnoyarsk in 2022.
Some competitions, however, will not be affected, such as four Euro 2020 matches, including a quarter-final, and the 2021 Champions League final, all of which are taking place in St Petersburg.
Wada justified these exceptions last month by saying the competitions were “not multi-sport major events or world championships but rather regional/continental single-sport events”.
The same exemption would apply to events which make up one stage of a world circuit such as the Russian Formula One Grand Prix in Sochi.
No representative of the Russian government would be permitted to work for or sit on the committee of any signatory of the World Anti-Doping Code, which effectively means any international sports federation.
This ban does leave the door open to any Russian citizen who does not officially represent the Kremlin or the government.
Whether this will extend to President Vladimir Putin, who is the honorary president of the International Judo Federation, has not been specified.
Europe beckons for South African rugby after Kiwi snub
JOHANNESBURG, South Africa, Jul 20 – World Cup-winning Springbok Schalk Brits believes the future of South African rugby lies in Europe after New Zealand said there was no room for sides from the republic in Super Rugby.
“All of this jet lag and flying across different time zones just does not work,” said the hooker who retired after the triumphant 2019 World Cup campaign.
“We have got so many South Africans playing in Europe and it would be awesome to see them in action here for European clubs.”
With New Zealand favouring a trans-Tasman Super Rugby competition, South Africa Rugby chief executive Jurie Roux will address the media Tuesday about the way forward.
There has been no rugby in South Africa since mid-March due to the coronavirus pandemic, which claimed 5,033 lives by late Sunday, the most in an African country.
Here, AFP Sport looks at the possibilities for the world champions Springboks and Super Rugby teams the Bulls, Lions, Sharks and Stormers.
There has been speculation that the six-round annual tournament will be cut to four matches with New Zealand and Australia playing in South Africa only every second year.
That would be a huge blow for SA Rugby coffers as the century-old rivalry with the All Blacks makes them a huge drawcard.
South Africa might consider abandoning the Championship and pursuing a suggestion by former All Blacks Justin Marshall and Jeff Wilson for three-Test tours between the great rivals.
“British and Irish Lions tours are so successful because we look forward to them,” noted another ex-All Black, John Kirwan. The same could be said of an All Blacks-Springboks series.
Should South African franchises move north, would the Springboks follow suit and apply to join England, France, Ireland, Italy, Scotland and Wales in a ‘Seven Nations’ championship?
Having the world champions on board would surely excite the organisers and costs would be greatly reduced if the Springboks played their three away matches on consecutive weekends.
England, Ireland, France and Wales, in particular, would bring freshness for rugby followers, who have not rushed to the turnstiles for Championship visits by Australia and Argentina.
Ask the SA Rugby treasurer for his ‘dream’ line-up and he would surely say a multi-Test tour by the All Blacks and participation in the ‘Seven Nations’.
Although not official yet, the reality is that New Zealand want to play some Australian sides and the Pacific Islands in a new competition while excluding South Africa and Argentina.
The original version, a Super 10 between 1993 and 1995, was a superb competition, but constant tinkering and expansion has led to waning interest in a difficult-to-follow event.
Even those supporting the Golden Lions of South Africa could not have derived too much satisfaction from a 94-7 thrashing of Japanese visitors the Sunwolves three years ago.
South Africa sides often battled with time differences in Australasia — New Zealand is 11 hours ahead of the republic — and were weary after four-match tours.
Pro14 chief executive Martin Anayi says he would welcome Super Rugby ‘rejects’ the Bulls, Lions, Sharks and Stormers into an expanded edition.
“The tournament works well but could be even better if we added some South African teams,” he said, referring to a competition that also includes Irish, Italian, Scottish and Welsh teams.
But there may be no room for the two current South African Pro14 participants, the Cheetahs and Kings, who have experienced very different fortunes.
While the Cheetahs have been competitive, the Kings won just four of 55 matches in three seasons with some of the losing margins embarrassing.
The domestic competition has survived constant format changes to remain the vital ‘nursery’ from which Springboks emerge.
First staged in 1892, it was the bedrock of South African rugby until the dawn of professionalism after the 1995 Rugby World Cup.
As Test and Super Rugby fixtures took up an increasing amount of the season, the Currie Cup often battled for calendar space.
But it survived and this year could feature the four Super Rugby sides plus the Cheetahs, Kings, Griquas and Pumas, if play is possible amid the coronavirus.
Kenya records highest number of deaths from Covid-19
Kenya’s coronavirus cases rise to 13,771 after 418 more infections
Kenya on Monday reported 418 more Covid-19 infections, raising the country’s tally to 13,771 since the virus was first confirmed on March 13.
Health Chief Administrative Secretary (CAS) Rashid Aman also reported four more deaths, raising the toll to 238. He rectified an earlier report about 19 deaths in a single day, which would have been the highest number ever recorded in Kenya.
The 418 new patients were found following the testing of 2,474 samples in the last 24 hours.
Four hundred and eight of them were Kenyans and 10 foreigners while male patients numbered 263 and female patients 155.
Dr Aman also announced that 494 patients had been discharged, raising the country’s total number of recoveries to 5,616.
Of the recovered patients, 465 were under home care and the rest in hospitals.
More to follow