When the World Ski Orienteering Championships in Estonia starts with the Sprint competitions on February 24th, participating athletes from Russia will be competing with neutral status. This means they will not be representing their country, the Russian Federation, but themselves.
The background for this is the ruling on December 17th, 2020 at the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) regarding arbitration between the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA). RUSADA was declared non-compliant with the World Anti-Doping Code for a 2 year period, until December 16th, 2022, as they were found to have manipulated data from the Moscow laboratory prior to submission to WADA in connection with investigations regarding systematic anti-doping violations in Russia.
The ruling places a number of requirements on the IOF, as a signatory of the Code.
- Athletes from Russia are allowed to participate at IOF World Championships events, but only as neutral athletes. This is in effect for all senior World Championships in all disciplines in 2021 and 2022. The decision does not affect Junior, Youth or Masters Championships or partner multisport events with orienteering on the program, such as The World Games, FISU and ISF events.
- In start and result lists Russian athletes will be denoted as neutral, the Russian Federation flag will not be displayed and the national anthem of the Russian Federation will not be played in connection with awards ceremonies. Russian athletes will participate in neutral clothing free of associations to the Russian Federation.
- During the 2-year period the IOF may not accept applications from or appoint Russia as organisers of a senior IOF World Championships event in any of the IOF disciplines.
- The Russian Orienteering Federation may not nominate a candidate for election to the IOF Council during the 2-year period, nor may the IOF appoint further Russian members to IOF Commissions during the period. Current Council and Commission members from Russia will remain in place since they were elected and appointed prior to December 17th, 2020.
- The ruling also puts restrictions on the accreditation and attendance of Russian Federation government representatives at IOF events.
The IOF has communicated the consequences of the ruling to the Russian Orienteering Federation and has received their full cooperation in the implementation of the restrictions. The IOF will also be supporting World Championships organisers regarding their implementation of the requirements.