Prove your innocence or lose Tokyo spot
THE boss of Australia's Anti-Doping Agency David Sharpe says Russia should be banned from the 2020 Tokyo Olympics if evidence proves they deliberately erased positive drug tests.
In a bombshell that is reverberating around the sporting world, the World Anti-Doping Agency has given Russia three weeks to explain how a number of positive drug tests were deleted from a database sent to the world's anti-doping regulator as it investigated one of the biggest cheating scandals in sports history.
Russia's promise to deliver a database of thousands of athlete records was a key factor in WADA's decision to lift a ban on the country's anti-doping agency in late 2018.
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However, it's now been alleged that data sent to WADA from the Moscow lab at the centre of the 2015 doping scandal had been manipulated.
Sharpe held a dim view of Russia, if WADA's complaisance review committee proves evidence of systematic cheating.
"It's critical that this issue be dealt with and be dealt with swiftly in order to protect the integrity of doping globally,'' Sharpe said.
"But at the same time, WADA is obviously dealing with a very complex issue and particularly the compliance review committee have given the three week notice to Russia to remedy the issues they identified around data.
"We've got the original issue of systemic doping and that was managed in one way with certain conditions that needed to be met.
"They were reinstated on the basis of those conditions were met. But if one of those conditions, has been manipulated, which is has been suggested, I would suggest it would need to be the hardest response and that's removal from the Olympics.
"If the evidence exists that data has been manipulated before it was provided to WADA for review, I would support the strongest actions of WADA coming down on them.''
The spotlight on Russia has emerged in the wake of a three-year suspension that had been imposed after the discovery of one of the most audacious and sophisticated cheating schemes in history, one that corrupted a number of major international sporting events, including several Olympics.
The scandal meant Russian athletes were barred from competing under their own flag at the 2018 Winter Games in PyeongChang, South Korea, and the new investigation most likely means a group of especially vetted Russian athletes will once again compete as neutrals at the world track and field championships that open on Friday in Doha, Qatar.
A determination from WADA on their findings into Russia's latest scandal isn't expected until the end of November.