Accused of a cascade of traps, Russia will know this Thursday if it is excluded for four years from major international competitions, including three Olympic Games, as claimed by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA).
After four days of hearing behind closed doors at the beginning of November, the three judges appointed by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) of Lausanne will issue at 4:00 p.m. local time (14:00 GMT) an unprecedented decision in the history of justice sport, which could deprive Russia of being present at the Olympic Games in Tokyo next year, the winter event in Beijing in 2022, the World Cup in Qatar 2022 and the Games in Paris 2024.
The issue is not minor for Russian athletes, threatened with four years without prestigious competitions. Only those who demonstrate their null link with doping could participate.
Founded in 1999 after the Festina cycling scandal, the WADA made a vast effort in the investigation and its credibility is at stake at a time when the United States threatens to cut aid and has just adopted a law allowing it to lead its own world crusade against doping.
Finally, the International Olympic Committee and the Federations await clear directives from the TAS, seven months before the Tokyo Games, in order to avoid the uncertainty and ups and downs of the Russian case.
Just before the Rio Games in 2016, WADA recommended an exclusion of Russian athletes which was rejected by the IOCWhile a few days before the start of the Pyeongchang Winter Games in 2018, the CAS exonerated 28 Russian athletes suspended for life by the IOC.
But the legal framework is clearer on this occasion, since it is a matter of validating or not the set of sanctions proposed in December 2019 by WADA and rejected by the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (Rusada), because of the manipulation of the computer files of the Moscow anti-doping laboratory for the period 2011-2015.
In their report, to which AFP had access, the Montreal researchers establish two types of manipulation: suppression of traces of positive doping controls and the introduction of false conversations seeking to compromise Grigory Rodchenkov, former director of the refugee laboratory in U.S and become the main informant of the AMA.
And if this computer fraud so exasperates WADA, it is because the Russian dispute has lasted since 2010, involves the secret services and the Russian Ministry of Sports and has fueled tensions between Moscow and the sports authorities, perceived as instruments of Western rule.
“Our athletes are prevented, by not very sporting means, from achieving the successes they deserve,” Russian President Vladimir Putin launched in October.
Ten years ago, the Russian middle-distance runner Yuliya Stepanova and her husband Vitaly, a former Rusada controller, alerted WADA to institutionalized doping in Russia, and later denounced it on the German channel ARD, which broadcast from December 2014 an enlightening documentary series.
The scandal took on the overtones of an espionage novel when Grigory Rodchenkov, forced to resign from the Moscow laboratory and a refugee in the United States, acknowledged in the spring of 2016 orchestrating the Russian doping cover-up for years in coordination with the Ministry of Sports, then led by Vitaly Mutko, a man trusted by Vladimir Putin.
To elude WADA observers at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, the scientist explained, his team sneaked urine samples from Russian athletes through “a mouse hole” that carried a member of the FSB, the Russian secret services.
The spy, dressed as maintenance personnel, tore off the seal that should be inviolable using a surgical utensil, and then replaced the contents with previously collected “clean” urine.