Russia is Banned from The Olympics. What Does This Mean for BMX?

Earlier this week, it was announced that Russia was banned from the 2020 Olympics as a result of an ongoing doping scandal. What does this mean for BMX?

Well, nobody really seems to know yet. But, for now, here's a rundown of the facts and how it seems they're going to pertain to BMX.

Elizaveta Posadskikh

- The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has banned Russia from competing in "Global Events" for four years for tampering with data relating to drug tests. The 2020 Olympics in Tokyo is one of these events.

- Freestyle BMX was confirmed as an Olympic sport in June of 2017. Presumed issues with doping in Russia date back much further than this.

- If The Olympics took place tomorrow, Russia would have qualified a man and a woman to compete.

- The athletes currently scoring Olympic points for Russia are Irek Rizaev and Kostya Andreev (men) and Elizaveta Posadskikh and Ekaterina Kruglova (women). 

- As far as we're aware, none of these athletes have ever failed any sort of drug test. None of them have ever faced any sort of suspension. 

- The ban of Russia in The Olympics will restrict the Russian flag from being flown and the Russian national anthem from being played. It also restricts Russian officials from participating in and / or attending major events. 

- Russia can - and is expected to - appeal this ban. 

- If Russian athletes can prove their innocence and that they are clean, they will be able to compete as "neutral." They will not be representing any specific nation. This is the official literature from WADA

Russian athletes and their support personnel may only participate in Major Events staged in the Four-Year Period where they are able to demonstrate that they are not implicated in any way by the non-compliance with conditions including (without limitation) that they are not mentioned in incriminating circumstances in the McLaren reports, there are no positive findings reported for them in the database and no data relating to their samples has been manipulated, and that they have been subject to adequate in-competition and out-of-competition testing prior to the event in question according to WADA, in accordance with strict conditions to be defined by WADA (or the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), if it sees fit), pursuant to the mechanism foreseen in ISCCS Article 11.2.6. In this circumstance, they may not represent the Russian Federation.

Kostya Andreev

Here's where it get's confusing for BMX...

Our qualifying criteria is pretty complicated. Russia has virtually guaranteed their spot for the men's event and, though it's far from a guarantee, is currently in the running for the women's. Even if the athletes compete as neutral, the UCI will still have to recognize the points the Russian riders earned as teams in order for them to hold on to their spots. 

We reached out to the UCI for clarification on what will happen here, but no decision has been made and likely will not be for quite a while.

The Russian riders seem to be taking this in stride. We spoke with a few of them and they're moving forward with business as usual. They seem confident their points will stand and they will be able to compete in Tokyo.

Irek Rizaev

Our opinion? If they earn their spot, you've gotta let 'em ride. I think these athletes are clean and have no reason to suspect them of any sort of wrongdoing. It's unfortunate they could be effected by this situation, but given the chance, I'm confident these riders will prove their individual innocence and should be rewarded with their opportunities to compete on the sport's biggest stage. 

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