What WADA's four-year doping ban means for Russia's national soccer team and its World Cup hopes
The World Anti-Doping Agency handed down the hammer on Russia on Monday
Russia just hosted the 2018 World Cup, and there are young, world-class players that are raising expectations on the international level. But the Russia national team was just handed a big setback as it hoped to build off a 2018 World Cup where it advanced all the way to the quarterfinals. On Monday, Russia was banned from global sports for four years due to doping, the World Anti-Doping Agency announced. If upheld, Russia would be excluded from the 2022 World Cup in addition to other events in other sports. More on that .
Here's what to know about the news when it comes to soccer:
What does this mean for the World Cup and were Russia soccer players doping?
It's a small blow for UEFA, but a big one for Russia. The punishment is the result of the scheme that came to light at the 2014 Sochi Olympics where dozens of Russian athletes were involved in a state-run doping program that involved tampering with data to hide positive doping tests. Not having Russia at the 2022 World Cup would certainly be a blow but it's more of a problem for national team than it is for UEFA, which would still get 13 teams into the World Cup sans Russia.
This is a punishment that impacts all of the sports in Russia, but there is no evidence at the present time that suggests any men's soccer players were doping at the 2018 World Cup. According to FIFA's results of its anti-doping program conducted before and during the competition, no Russian player tested positive.
Will this impact the World Cup qualifying cycle in Europe?
If upheld, Russia wouldn't be eligible to qualify, but it's something UEFA can certainly figure out. The European governing body for soccer already has groups with an uneven number of teams in qualifying for Euro 2020, so it would just have to make a slight modification to make this work, using something similar to the Euro 2020 qualifying model.
What has FIFA said in response?
FIFA has said the following:
"FIFA has taken note of the decision taken by WADA's executive committee today. FIFA is in contact with WADA and the Association of Summer Olympic International Federations to clarify the extent of the decision in regards to football," a FIFA spokesperson told ESPN.
Can Russia still play at Euro 2020?
Yes. Euro 2020 is not recognized as a major event by WADA, and Russia will host matches at the tournament, including a quarterfinal in St. Petersburg. Having already qualified for the tournament, the expectation is for Russia to have no ramifications suffered from this ban come next summer at the Euros.
Russia has three weeks to appeal the decision, and if it does, the case will then go to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, according to WADA.
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