The headquarters of the Russian Olympic Committee is seen Monday in Moscow ahead of the World Anti-Doping Agency's issuing a four-year ban on international competition. Photo by Yuri Kochetkov/EPA-EFE
Dec. 9 (UPI) -- Athletes were barred Monday from competing under the Russian flag during the 2020 Summer Olympics under a four-year ban imposed by the World Anti-Doping Agency.
Should the decision be upheld under an expected appeal from Moscow, Russia's national presence, including its flag and anthem, will be removed from the games in Tokyo next summer, as well as other international sports competitions until 2024 -- potentially including the 2022 Winter Olympic Games in Beijing and the 2022 Soccer World Cup in Qatar.
WADA announced the unanimous decision of it executive commission in Lausanne, Switzerland, backing the findings of an independent investigatory committee which determined that the Russian Anti-Doping Agency was "non-compliant" with the World Anti-Doping Code.
Russia has 21 days to appeal the decision to the international Court of Arbitration for Sport.
WADA conditionally reinstated Russia in September 2018 following its ban from that year's Winter Olympic Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea. That penalty had been instituted in response to revelations the Russian Anti-Doping Agency participated in a large-scale doping scandal during the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia.
But Russia's reinstatement quickly came under question. Earlier this year, the Russian anti-doping agency, known as RUSADA, was found to have manipulated data from its Moscow laboratory in an attempt to mislead WADA investigators. Eleven weeks ago, WADA gave Moscow three weeks to explain the inconsistencies.
"For too long, Russian doping has detracted from clean sport," WADA President Craig Reedie said in a statement Monday. "The blatant breach by the Russian authorities of RUSADA's reinstatement conditions ... demanded a robust response. That is exactly what has been delivered today."
Margarita Pakhnotskaya, RUSADA's deputy director, said the decision "was well-expected."
"I'm not surprised it was unanimous," she said. "The picture that I saw at a recent WADA session was approximately the same. As far as I understand, executive committee members said not a word in Russia's support."