QATAR 2022

Russian players cleared to compete at World Cup as neutral team

The World Anti-Doping Agency confirmed that Russian players would be allowed to play at the 2022 World Cup but not as representatives of Russia.

Russian players cleared to compete at World Cup as neutral team
Carl Recine REUTERS

The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has confirmed that Russian players will be able to compete at the Qatar World Cup in 2022 but not as representatives of Russia.

On Monday WADA banned Russia from international sporting events for four years, including the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics, over inconsistencies in anti-doping data discovered during an investigation.

The decision immediately prompted FIFA to seek clarification on how the ruling would impact Russia’s involvement in the World Cup in 2022.

“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.

As a result of a similar ban for the 2018 Piongyang Winter Olympics, the Russian Olympic committee allowed its athletes to participate by adopting the name Russian Olympic Athletes without mention of the flag or their country of origin.

A similar measure could be taken with the Russian national football team to allow the players to compete at the World Cup should they qualify.

The Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA) has 21 days to appeal the WADA suspension, which would see its case referred to the Court of Arbitration for Sport..

Nations that have been banned from World Cup

It would not be the first time a nation has been banned from the World Cup. South Africa were banned from the tournament in 1996 over apartheid, with the ban remaining in place until 1992.

Mexico were barred from the qualification stages for the 1990 World Cup as a result of a two-year ban for age fraud at a youth championship.

Chile were kicked out of the 1994 World Cup after they were hit with a 12-year ban over an incident which saw goalkeeper Roberto Rojas feign an injury by cutting his own face with a razor blade he had hidden in his glove during a World Cup qualifier against Brazil.