Russia’s Olympic Dressage Team Status Uncertain as Fallout from Country’s Anti-Drug Turmoil
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Dec. 15, 2019
By KENNETH J. BRADDICK
Russia’s dressage team, the only one of the three equestrian disciplines to qualify for the 2020 Olympics, is caught in the long running drug testing turmoil involving the status of its athletes and the flag to compete under in Tokyo.
The squad of three riders and riders qualified at an International Equestrian Federation (FEI) designated event to be one of the 15 teams earning a start in dressage at Tokyo in late July.
The Russian riders and the horses that qualified were tested at World Anti-Doping Agency-authorized laboratories outside Russia as rquired by the FEI.
Controversy surrounding Russia’s own drug-testing system led to WADA earlier this week recommending a ban on Russian athletes from international events, including the Olympics and Paralympics, for four years.
The punishment is due to authorities tampering with Moscow Laboratory data before it was handed over to the global watchdog earlier this year.
Athletes may, however, be able to compete under neutral status where they “are able to demonstrate that they are not implicated in any way by the non-compliance.”
Some national and international Olympic sport federations have raised questions as to how athletes can demonstrate they are in compliance.
FEI replied to questions from dressage-news.com that the FEI required use only of WADA-authorized testing laboratories.
“Following the testing of human and equine samples after the Group C Olympic qualifier event which took place in Russia in June this year, the horse samples were sent to the FEI Central Laboratory LGC, located in Newmarket (England),” a FEI spokesperson said.
“As a signatory of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) Code, the FEI has developed anti-doping rules for human athletes in compliance with the code as well as with WADA’s international standards. The FEI tested Russian athletes and that the samples were sent outside of Russia, to WADA-approved laboratories in Sweden and Austria.”