Russia has been banned from all major international sporting events for four years – including the Olympics and the 2022 football World Cup – after a doping scandal.
On Monday, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) ruled the measure as a penalty for manipulating laboratory data.
WADA’s executive committee took the decision after it concluded that Moscow had tampered with laboratory data by planting fake evidence and deleting files linked to positive doping tests that could have helped identify drug cheats.
The WADA committee’s decision to punish Russia with a ban was unanimous, the spokesperson said.
Russia, which has tried to showcase itself as a global sports power, has been embroiled in doping scandals since a 2015 report commissioned by WADA found evidence of mass doping in Russian athletics.
Its doping woes have grown since, with many of its athletes sidelined from the past two Olympics and the country stripped of its flag altogether at last year’s Pyeongchang Winter Games as punishment for state-sponsored doping cover-ups at the 2014 Sochi Games.
Monday’s sanctions had been recommended by WADA’s compliance review committee in response to the doctored laboratory data provided by Moscow earlier this year.
One of the conditions for the reinstatement of Russian anti-doping agency RUSADA, which was suspended in 2015 in the wake of the athletics doping scandal but brought back last year, had been that Moscow provide an authentic copy of the laboratory data.
The sanctions effectively strip the agency of its accreditation.
Sports minister Pavel Kolobkov last month attributed the discrepancies in the laboratory data to technical issues.
The punishment, however, leaves the door open for clean Russian athletes to compete at major international sporting events without their flag or anthem for four years, as was the case during the Pyeongchang Olympics.
But it is unclear how the ruling will affect Russian teams taking part in world championships such as football’s Fifa World Cup.
Some Russian officials, meanwhile, have branded the call for sanctions unfair and likened it to broader Western attempts to hold back the country.
If RUSADA appeals the sanctions endorsed by WADA’s executive committee, the case will be referred to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), WADA has said.
UK Anti-Doping welcomed the ban on Russia by saying it was the “only possible outcome”.
UKAD chief executive Nicole Sapstead said: “We welcome today’s decision to declare RUSADA non-compliant, and the decisive action by WADA’s Executive Committee (ExCo) to impose four-year sanctions on Russian athletes and support personnel.
“This was the only possible outcome that the WADA ExCo could take to reassure athletes and the public and continue the task of seeking justice for those cheated by Russian athletes.
“We know however that this is not necessarily the end of the matter. If RUSADA choose to appeal this decision to CAS, this must be carried out with minimal delay, especially in light of the upcoming Olympic and Paralympic Games in Tokyo.
“We welcome the clear and detailed communication from WADA today which is vital in helping to maintain confidence in the global anti-doping system.”