The official sports world is unanimous: Russia cheats. And as a result, the nation cannot compete in next year's summer Olympics in Japan. In fact, Russia is banned from international sporting events for the next four years, a span that includes the 2022 winter Olympics in Beijing and the 2022 soccer World Cup, reports Reuters. The World Anti-Doping Agency imposed the ban Monday after evidence emerged that Russia dopes its athletes in systematic fashion. Moscow denies the allegations and is expected to appeal. The New York Times notes that individual Russian athletes can still compete, though they must wear neutral uniforms and won't hear their national anthem if they win. Only athletes who have not been implicated in the scandal are eligible.
Those exceptions are likely to displease critics who say the punishment isn't strong enough. "This is as far as we could go," said Linda Helleland, a Norwegian lawmaker who serves on the WADA executive committee, per the AP. "This is the biggest sports scandal the world has ever seen," she added. "I would expect now a full admission from the Russians and for them to apologize (for) all the pain all the athletes and sports fans have experienced." Among other things, Russia is accused of manipulating lab data to try to cover up its doping, specifically by replacing tainted urine with clean samples at the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, Russia. (Read more Russia stories.)