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Competing under national flag is right, not privilege – FIE President

Alisher Usmanov said that the ruthless fight against doping shall not be turned into lynching and the application of new sanctions for the second time for the same doping violation
President of the International Fencing Federation (FIE) Alisher Usmanov Sergey Savostyanov/TASS
President of the International Fencing Federation (FIE) Alisher Usmanov
© Sergey Savostyanov/TASS

MOSCOW, December 8. /TASS/. President of the International Fencing Federation (FIE) Alisher Usmanov urges head of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) Craig Reedie to prevent unjustified restrictions against clean Russian athletes in an open letter released on Sunday.

“As the President of the International Fencing Federation I understand the importance of the matters that will be considered on December 9, 2019. I fully support the most severe sanctions against any doping offenders but only if the decisions are fair and based on general principles of law and the Olympic Charter,” Usmanov says in the letter, with the copy also forwarded to IOC President Thomas Bach.

"While actually recognizing that the Russian Olympic Committee is blameless, the Compliance Review Committee recommends to prohibit the participation of its elected representatives at the most important sport events which will unquestionably discriminate clean Russian athletes against other athletes,” he says.

"The ban to fly Russia’s flag is another obvious discrimination because the ability of an athlete to compete under the flag of its country is not a special privilege but the basic human right of any athlete,” the FIE President notes.

“The ruthless fight against doping shall not be turned into lynching and the application of new sanctions for the second time for the same doping violation. While guilty ones must definitely be punished as hard as possible, the innocent ones shall not be deprived of the most important human rights," Usmanov says. “The purpose of the World Anti-Doping Code is to protect the athletes’ fundamental right to participate in doping-free sport,” he adds.

The FIE President suggests following this purpose and protecting the fundamental right of clean Russian athletes to participate in international competitions without discrimination and unwarranted restrictions.

On November 25, the WADA Compliance Review Committee (CRC) reiterated its previous recommendation for the world anti-doping body’s Executive Committee (ExCo) to strip RUSADA (the Russian Anti-Doping Agency) of its compliance status and came up with a recommendation of additional sanctions against Russian sports.

Among the recommended sanctions, the CRC suggested to bar Russia from all international sports competitions, including the Olympic and Paralympic Games, for a four-year period. The WADA Executive Committee will pass a final decision on Russia at its meeting on December 9 in Paris.