WADA’s call for Russian ban ask questions of St Petersburg’s Euro 2020 hosting

By Andrew Warshaw

November 26 – Russia’s staging of four matches at Euro 2020 is reported to be under threat after a World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) committee recommended the country be banned from hosting sports events for four years.

Under the recommendation, Russians would have to compete as neutrals at next year’s Tokyo Olympics and also at the next Winter Olympics in Beijing in 2022.

One of the proposals is to withdraw the right to host an event already awarded unless it’s “legally and practically impossible”.

That technically could mean St. Petersburg being stripped of its part in next summer’s pan-European finals, with the Krestovsky Stadium set to host three group games and a quarter-final.

The recommendations were made by WADA’s independent Compliance Review Committee and will be put to the executive committee on December 9.

“We are plunging, for the next four years, into a new phase of Russia’s doping crisis,” Russia’s anti-doping chief Yury Ganus told AFP.

“There are a lot of problems in sports here, but the most difficult and tragic thing is that our athletes have become hostages of the actions of our sports officials.

“We need to push through real changes. We need new sports leaders.”

St. Petersburg is sharing a four-team group with Copenhagen at Euro 2020 and despite the WADA statements, the city –  also chosen by UEFA to host the Champions League final in 2021 – fully anticipates playing its part.

Local organising committee chief Alexey Sorokin  has been at pains to distance himself from the controversy. “For us as organisers we have not had any issues with doping,” he told reporters.

“We have already said that our partner is UEFA. It would be weird for us as organisers to see any kind of discussion about changes, given our degree of preparedness. In any case, the future of Euro-2020 is [determined] in our dialogue with UEFA, not WADA. So far, I see no factors indicating that any decisions may be reviewed.”

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