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Russia has been banned from competing in international sport for the next 4 years by the World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada). This includes the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and the 2022 Fifa World Cup in Qatar.

They have been banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada) for the second time since 2015, having been unable to compete in athletics since then. Russia was originally banned after being caught cheating at the 2014 Winter Olympics which was hosted in Sochi, Russia. Wada found that the Russian government had operated a state-sponsored doping programme for four years to help its athletes cheat by using banned drugs. The government then hid the evidence from Wada.

The ban was a result of a unanimous vote made by Wada’s executive committee in Lausanne, Switzerland and came after Russia’s Anti Doping Agency (Rusada) manipulated laboratory data which was then handed over to investigators in January 2019. Although the ban states Russia may not participate in crucial sporting events,  Russian athletes who can prove that they have had no part in the scandal and have not used banned substances will be able to participate in the 2020 Olympics under a neutral flag. A similar sanction was put on Russian athletes at the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics where 168 of them participated under a neutral flag following the 2014 doping scandal.

Wada’s president has said, “For too long, Russian doping has detracted from clean sport. The blatant breach by the Russian authorities of Rusada’s reinstatement conditions demanded a robust response.” Although Wada’s president believes this ban to be exactly what should be delivered, vice-president of Wada Linda Helleland has complained that the 4-year ban is not enough. She has been quoted saying, “I wanted sanctions that can not be watered down,” continuing, “We owe it to the clean athletes to implement the sanctions as strongly as possible.” Those who agree with her are concerned that weak punishments may only encourage athletes to cheat in the future.

The prime minister of Russia, Dmitry Medvedev has accused this ban of being a result of “chronic anti-Russia hysteria.” Rusada has 21 days to appeal the ban and they have since stated that they do not agree with the punishment from Wada and that a letter will be prepared on behalf of President Vladimir Putin to fight it.

Difficult words

World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada): A group that makes sure athletes don’t use drugs.

Sponsor (v): A person or group who pays for something to take place.

Unanimous (adj): Everyone is in agreement.

Manipulate (v): To change something in your favour.

Detract (v): To diminish the value of something.

Blatant (adj): Obvious, done openly.

Robust (adj): Strong and healthy.

Water down (phrasal verb): To reduce the force or effectiveness of something.

Chronic (adj): Persisting for a long time or constantly recurring.

Hysteria (n): Exaggerated or uncontrolled emotion.

Activities

For listening practise, listen to the recorded article here:

British English: Coming Soon!

American English: 

Match the Synonym!

1. Sponsor A. Change
2. Unanimous B. Lessen
3. Manipulate C. Obvious
4. Detract D. Agree
5. Blatant E. Persistent
6. Robust F. Frenzy
7. Water down G. Diminish
8. Chronic H. Pay for.
9. Hysteria I. Strong

True or False?

1. Russia has been banned from participating in the next Olympics. T / F

2.  The ban will last a decade. T / F

3.  The next Fifa World Cup will take place in South America. T / F

4. This is the second time Russia has been banned from international sport. T / F

5. Russia has always been honest with Wada. T / F

6. The decision to ban Russia was unanimous.T / F

7. Russia provided a state-sponsored program to help athletes cheat. T / F

8. Russian athletes who can prove they did not take drugs can still participate with the Russian flag. T / F

9. Wada’s vice president does not agree with the punishment given to Russia. T / F

10. Vladimir Putin will appeal Wada’s decision by letter. T / F

Unscramble the sentence!

1. sport / international / from / in / competing / has / banned / Russia / been

2. cheating / banned / Russia / originally / after / caught / was / being

3. evidence / Wada / hid / the / government / then / from / The

4. of / result / was / a / The / vote / ban / a / unanimous

5. days / 21 / appeal / ban / to / Rusada / the / has

Listening and Vocabulary

Listen to the article and fill in the words OR practice vocabulary and fill in the words.

British English: Coming Soon!

American English: 

Hosted Doping Sanction
Cheat International Breach
Laboratory Behalf Implement

Russia has been banned from competing in (1)________________ sport for the next 4 years by the World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada), this includes the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and the 2022 Fifa World Cup in Qatar.

They have been banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada) for the second time since 2015, having been unable to compete in athletics since then. Russia was originally banned after being caught cheating at the 2014 Winter Olympics which was (2)________ in Sochi, Russia. Wada found that the Russian government had operated a state-sponsored (3)___________ programme for four years to help its athletes cheat by using banned drugs. The government then hid the evidence from Wada.

The ban was a result of a unanimous vote made by Wada’s executive committee in Lausanne, Switzerland and came after Russia’s Anti Doping Agency (Rusada) manipulated (4)______________ data which was then handed over to investigators in January 2019. Although the ban states Russia may not participate in crucial sporting events,  Russian athletes who can prove that they have had no part in the scandal and have not used banned substances will be able to participate in the 2020 Olympics under a neutral flag. A similar (5)___________ was put on Russian athletes at the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics where 168 of them participated under a neutral flag following the 2014 doping scandal.

Wada’s president has said, “For too long, Russian doping has detracted from clean sport. The blatant (6)____________ by the Russian authorities of Rusada’s reinstatement conditions demanded a robust response.” Although Wada’s president believes this ban to be exactly what should be delivered, vice-president of Wada Linda Helleland has complained that the 4-year ban is not enough. She has been quoted saying, “I wanted sanctions that can not be watered down,” continuing, “We owe it to the clean athletes to (7)______________ the sanctions as strongly as possible.” Those who agree with her are concerned that weak punishments may only encourage athletes to (8)_______ in the future.

The prime minister of Russia, Dmitry Medvedev has accused this ban of being a result of “chronic anti-Russia hysteria.” Rusada has 21 days to appeal the ban and they have since stated that they do not agree with the punishment from Wada and that a letter will be prepared on (9)__________ of President Vladimir Putin to fight it.

Conversation Questions

Take turns speaking with a partner or try to answer on your own:

1. Did you find this article interesting? Why or why not?
2. Did you learn anything new from this article? If so, what?
3. What do you think of this story?
4. What type of punishment should athletes receive for taking drugs?
5. Is the 4-year ban on Russia competing long enough?
6. Is taking drugs a problem with athletes in your country?
7. Does your country regularly participate in international sport competitions?
8. Is it wrong for athletes to use performance-enhancing drugs?
9. If there was a vote, do you think athletes would choose to allow or ban drugs in sport?
10. Which sport do you think suffers the most from drug usage?
11. How often do you think athletes should be tested?
12. What do you think about life-time bans for athletes who use drugs?
13. Have any athletes from your country been discovered or banned?
14. Is there a difference between performance-enhancing drugs and performance-enhancing equipment/clothing?
15. Do you think sport can ever be completely drug-free?
16. Do you have a favourite athlete?
17. If your favourite athlete was found to be using drugs, would your opinion change?
18. If a football player scores a winning goal having taken drugs, should their whole team be penalised?
19. Should there be an alternative Olympics competition where athletes are allowed to take drugs?
20. Do you think Russia will stop using drugs in the future?