LAUSANNE – The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) said on Monday that the Russian national soccer team could not take part in the 2022 World Cup under the Russian flag due to doping sanctions that bar the country from major sporting events for four years.
WADA earlier on Monday banned Russia from the world’s top sporting events for four years, a period that includes the next summer and winter Olympics and the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, for tampering with doping-related laboratory data.
"If they qualify (for the World Cup), a team representing Russia cannot participate. But if there is a mechanism put in place, then they can apply to participate on a neutral basis, not as representatives of Russia," Jonathan Taylor, chair of WADA’s compliance review committee, told a news conference.
Taylor said that FIFA, soccer’s global governing body, had the option of putting in place such a mechanism and that it would allow clean Russian athletes to apply to compete as neutrals.
"It will be for FIFA to implement, but they will have to do so in conjunction with WADA," Taylor said. "But there will be no flag or anthem."
A spokesperson for FIFA told Reuters it had asked WADA and the Association of Summer Olympic International Federations (ASOIF) to clarify how the four-year ban affected Russia’s football teams.
The Russian Football Union told Russian news agencies earlier on Monday it had yet to hear FIFA’s official position on the WADA decision. It said it hoped its national teams would not face any restrictions.
The sanctions against Russia, the host of last year’s soccer World Cup, also bar it from hosting major sporting events for a four-year period or applying to host new events in that period.
But WADA has said the ban will not affect Russia’s hosting of four Euro 2020 soccer championships matches, including a quarter-final, as well as the Champions League final in 2021 set to be held in St. Petersburg.
WADA has said these events "are not multi-sport major events or world championships but rather regional/continental single-sport events."