Russia's ban is severe - but could it have been worse? Asks Steve Scott

Make no mistake a four-year ban is the heaviest punishment Russia has received since being uncovered as serial cheats.

Does it go far enough, though?

There are many who don’t think so, including the majority of the World Anti-Doping Agency’s athletes committee, who wanted a blanket ban.

That would have meant any Russian athlete, even if they could prove they are untainted by Russia’s cheating, would be forbidden from competing in any major event for four years.

  • Runner Lynsey Sharp says a four-year ban is sufficient

Nevertheless, Russia’s powerful position as a global sporting giant has been neutered. No participation and no bidding in any major world event for four years.

This time frame includes next year’s Olympics and Paralympics in Tokyo and the football World Cup in Qatar. Although Fifa has said it is seeking clarification as to whether this means a Russian team under a neutral banner can take part.

Remember, Russia hosted the last World Cup and made it through to the quarter finals.

As next summer’s Euros is not considered a ‘major event’, Russia is allowed to take part and also keep St Petersburg as one of the host cities.

Marta Zainullina, left, and Irina Guliaeva, right, both won medals representing Neutral Paralympic Athletes from Russia. Credit: PA

However, as it stands at the Tokyo Olympics, any Russian athlete cleared to compete will have to take part as an individual. No team uniform, no national anthem and representing a group that does not have Russia in its title as they have before, for example at last year’s Winter Olympics, under the banner of Olympic Athlete from Russia.

This is deeply wounding for Russian pride. At last year’s World Athletics Championships Russian competitors were called ‘authorised neutral athletes.’

The boss of the Russian Anti-Doping Agency, Yury Ganus, has called the decision a "tragedy" for clean athletes and indicated they’d be unlikely to win any appeal.

The next move though is up to them; they have 21 days to respond and if they want to, take their complaint to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.