Thanks to years of government-sanctioned doping by Russian athletes, you won’t hear the Russian national anthem or see a Russian flag at the 2022 Olympics in Beijing.
The World Anti-Doping Agency accused Russia of systematic doping in December 2019, banning all athletes from competing internationally in all sports for four years. And WADA includes all sports, from the International Ice Hockey Federation World Championships to the European Judo Championships. It is a global penalty for the whole nation.
“For too long, Russian doping has harmed clean sport,” WADA President Craig Reedie said after the accusations were read. And the amount of cheating happening in Russia was unprecedented since what happened behind the Iron Curtain in the 1970s.
There was even a “mousehole” in the anti-doping lab toilets where athletes could exchange their contaminated urine for clean samples on site during the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. This is how Russia increased their performance from 15 medals to 33 at these games, and there was even a Russian doctor’s spreadsheet given to the New York Times describing the whole program.
Russia’s anti-doping agency RUSADA was banned from testing athletes in 2015, conditionally reinstated in September 2018, then banned again in late 2019 for cheating again.
And due to the unprecedented violation of the rules, WADA has been tougher than ever against any nation, with a complete ban on all Russian athletes from December 2018 until December 2022. .
However, RUSADA appealed and won the repeal of significant sanctions despite protests from doping experts around the world. The original sentence was eventually halved by the Court of Arbitration for Sport towards the end of 2020, allowing Russia to compete in the Tokyo Summer Olympics only because they were delayed for a year thanks to COVID-19.
The CAS decision was highly controversial and, despite the clawbacks, “WADA managed to prove its case and expose the Russian authorities’ brazen attempts to manipulate the data.” But the court still decided to ease the sentence.
After this decision, a settlement between the International Olympic Committee and the Russian Olympic Committee was reached. Part of this settlement was that the Russian team was simply known as “ROC” during the Tokyo Summer Games and the Beijing Winter Games. Also, a special flag was created to be used instead of the Russian flag.
Instead of hearing the Russian national anthem when they win a gold medal, ROC athletes hear Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1. For classical music fans, it is a known hit.
Prior to the settlement, Russians participated in the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Games as “Olympic Athletes from Russia”. And assuming there are no more violations, Russia with its flag and music will again be allowed in international competitions on December 16, 2022. The country will also be allowed to bid to host international sporting events again. after this date.