Russia can't use its name and flag at the next 2 Olympics

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FILE - In this Feb. 23, 2014 file photo the Russian national flag, right, flies after it is hoisted next to the Olympic flag during the closing ceremony of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. The ruling on whether Russia can keep its name and flag for the Olympics will be announced on Thursday Dec. 17, 2020. The Court of Arbitration for Sport said Wednesday that three of its arbitrators held a four-day hearing last month in the dispute between the World Anti-Doping Agency and its Russian affiliate, known as RUSADA. (AP Photo/Matthias Schrader, file)

GENEVA – Russia will not be able to use its name, flag and anthem at the next two Olympics or at any world championships for the next two years after a ruling Thursday by the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

The Lausanne-based court halved the four-year ban proposed last year by the World Anti-Doping Agency in a landmark case that accused Russia of state-ordered tampering of a testing laboratory database in Moscow. The ruling also blocked Russia from bidding to host major sporting events for two years.

Russian athletes and teams will still be allowed to compete at next year’s Tokyo Olympics and the 2022 Winter Games in Beijing, as well as world championships including the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, if they are not banned for or suspected of doping.

One win for Russia is the proposed team name at major events. The name “Russia” can be retained on uniforms if the words “Neutral Athlete” or equivalents like “Neutral Team” have equal prominence, the court said.

The burden of proof was also shifted away from Russian athletes and more toward WADA when their doping history is vetted for selection to the Olympics or other sporting events.

Russian athletes and teams can also retain the national flag colors of red, white and blue in their uniforms at major events. That was not possible for Russians at the past two track world championships.

Even with those concessions, the court's three judges imposed the most severe penalties on Russia since allegations of state-backed doping and cover-ups emerged after the 2014 Sochi Olympics.

WADA president Witold Bańka hailed the court's decision despite its preferred ban being cut to two years.