The World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada) has banned Russia from competing at all major sporting events for the next four years. This includes the Tokyo 2020 Olympics where Climbing will be an Olympic sport for the first time. Russian climbers may still be able to compete with certain restrictions.
The ban is not quite as simple as it seems. All Russian athletes will be able to attend the Olympics if they are able to prove that they are unaffected by the scandal and meet “exceptional eligibility criteria” in testing. The athletes that pass will then be able to compete under a neutral flag. Russia’s flag and anthem will not be allowed at the Olympics (though we imagine this is only in announcements/media/results screens e.t.c).
We reported previously that Wada were considering a ban on Russia entering the Olympics. The move was not unexpected, and comes after a long investigation into state sponsored doping practices that included ingenious measures to hide doping from officials, fabrication of discrediting information, the attempted framing of whistle blowers, and a huge co-operation between Russian coaches and officials.
The Russian climber “banned” from the Olympics is Iuliia Kaplina – the only Russian yet to have gained an invitation. Iuliia is a Speed Climbing specialist who has set world records and taken medals in every Climbing World cup since 2013. As we’ve said previously, we believe Iuliia (and all other Russia climbers trying for an invite) as a climber is not involved in the scandal and will pass the tests required.
It is hugely sad for the climbers involved who are putting in the effort of a lifetime to try and gain an invite spot. We support any individual who wishes to compete to their highest ability and represent their country. Hopefully the competitors will be able to move past the testing stage to be allowed to compete and this won’t interfere with their training and mindset. Whether Russian Climbers banned will be able to compete is essentially up to Wada and the testing regime that will be put into place.
The next event where Russians can compete is the European Championships in Moscow 2020. This event has one invite spot per gender available and will be a tight competition. The invitees to this event aren’t publicly available but there are a few Russia climbers that have done well in recent competitions who may have a chance. Nikolia Iarilovets and Aleksey Rubstov in the Men’s category managed to get though to the recent Toulouse Qualififers though didn’t manage the finals.
As the news is breaking there is no word yet from the IFSC about how this could affect competitors or the the Moscow European Championships. It is always possible that the event is moved to a place deemed more suitable for fair competition.
It is worth mentioning that a large number of Russian athletes competed under the neutral flag in the last event where Russia was “banned” from competing. Russia has seen large blanket bans previously, and in the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympic many Russian athletes were allowed to compete. Many medals awarded previously have been stripped and a large number of bans for individual athletes have been given out. In that event originally 500 athletes wanted to attend, 111 were immediately banned, and only 168 were eventually allowed.
More news direct from the BBC. The Russian Anti Doping Agency Rusada can still appeal this ban in the next 21 days to help the Russian climbers banned, or see if there is a different way of applying the ban. Iuliia Kaplina has previously held the Speed Record, but Aries Susanti Rahayu is the current Women’s Speed Climbing World Record holder.