USADA chief executive Travis Tygart has described the sanctions against Russia as a "slap on the wrist" ©Getty Images

United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) chief executive Travis Tygart has described the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) ruling to ban Russia from major events for two years as a "slap on the wrist" for the "most egregious sporting crime" ever seen.

The CAS halved the four-year period of sanctions imposed by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) as punishment for the manipulation of the Moscow Laboratory data yesterday. 

Russia will not be able to host, or be granted the right to stage, any major events during the two-year suspension, and the country must be stripped of any World Championships it had already been awarded that are due to take place between now and December 16 2022 "unless it is legally or practically impossible" to do so.

Russia's flag and anthem will be banned from the Tokyo 2020 and Beijing 2022 Olympics, and only Russian athletes who meet certain criteria will be able to compete as neutrals at both Games and the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar - should the nation qualify.

The sanctions have attracted criticism for being too weak, however, with Russia's name still permitted on uniforms at events such as the Olympics and the colours of the flag also still allowed. 

The words "neutral athlete" - or an equivalent - "must be displayed in English in a position and size that is no less prominent than the name 'Russia'". 

Tygart is among those to criticise the CAS decision and told insidethegames he did not think the sanctions could be described as a ban. 

"It’s not in good faith to call it a ban and celebrate it as some sort of victory for clean athletes," he said. 

"It’s a slap on the wrist at best.

"Really, the only consequence is, in the event the Russians win at the Games or World Championships, the flag won’t be raised on the podium and the anthem won’t be sung. 

"Otherwise, it’s just really a rebranding, not any sort of ban.

"So it’s disappointing, because as everyone has acknowledged, this has been a 10 year affair.

"We’ve seen a similar slap on the wrist put in place by the International Olympic Committee in advance of the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Games, and the behaviour of the Russians to rob sport and destroy the Olympic values to a certain extent, has not changed.

"It was after the 2018 Winter Olympics when they manipulated and destroyed the evidence that would have allowed justice to be served in individual Russian athlete cases of those that were involved with the state sponsored doping.

"So everyone agreed that this is the most egregious fraud in sport that the world has ever seen, and lets hope, will ever see.

"Yet the rules that everyone has agreed to, through the established process, would have allowed for a complete ban.

"WADA didn’t ask for that, and what was asked for was then further reduced through the CAS decision.

"The crime does not fit the punishment.

"Everyone agrees this is the most egregious sporting crime that we’ve seen, and the punishment is almost non-existent."

The CAS halved the four-year period of sanctions imposed on Russia by the World Anti-Doping Agency yesterday ©Getty Images
The CAS halved the four-year period of sanctions imposed on Russia by the World Anti-Doping Agency yesterday ©Getty Images

WADA expressed disappointment at the watering down of its original sanctions, but ultimately declared victory. 

Russian Anti-Doping Agency officials have also claimed a win in the dispute. 

Tygart claimed it was "disingenuous" to describe the CAS decision as a victory for clean athletes.

"It’s frustrating to see those that are supposed to be standing up for clean sport, claiming this as a landmark victory," he said. 

"It’s just disingenuous and, I don’t know if it’s intentional to mislead people, but let’s call it for what it is.

"The outcome for athletes, going forward and in the past, is not helpful at all.  

"So to call that any bit of a win is just trying to not acknowledge the reality. 

"This is a loss for all of us - WADA, clean athletes, those who have been standing up for clean sport, and we should just call it for what it is. 

"The Russians, maybe for the first time throughout this entire affair for the last 10 years, have been accurate in claiming it as a victory, because it is a victory for them."

Tygart also called on WADA to undergo reform to ensure the same situation does not happen again.

"The sun is going to come home tomorrow, but it is a dark day, once again, for clean athletes, and looking forward, we have to ensure there is adequate testing for all athletes, but particularly the Russian athletes, because nothing has changed there," he said.

"We have to change and reform WADA to ensure it is fit for purpose and does not allow something like this ever to happen again, because I think unfortunately this outcome will incentivise others. 

"The message seems to be clear - cheat your way to the top, and when you get caught red-handed, do everything to cover it up and destroy the evidence of it.

"Even when you get caught doing that, not much is going to happen to you. 

"Your athletes will get to keep their winnings, they’ll get to keep their medals. 

"Everybody will be able to compete, just in a rebranded uniform, and the world will go on."

 UK Anti-Doping chief executive Nicole Sapstead was another to voice confusion at the reduction of the original WADA sanctions. 

"WADA quite rightly sought to impose the maximum four-year ban," she said. 

"It is hard to imagine a more serious breaking of the rules in sport, so I don’t understand the justification for this reduction."

The Canadian Olympic Committee, New Zealand Olympic Committee, United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee and German Olympic Sports Federation have also criticised the watering down of the sanctions.