WADA's executive committee took the decision after it concluded that Moscow had tampered with laboratory data by planting fake evidence and deleting files linked to positive doping tests that could have helped identify drug cheats.

The WADA committee's decision to punish Russia with a ban was unanimous, the spokesperson said.

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“Russia was afforded every opportunity to get its house in order and rejoin the global anti-doping community for the good of its athletes & of the integrity of sport, but it chose instead to continue in its stance of deception & denial,” World Anti-Doping Agency President Craig Reedie told AP.

WADA chief: ‘For too long, Russian doping has detracted from clean sport’

The result of the ban means that the Russian flag will not be present at the 2020 in Olympics, and the football team will not compete at the World Cup in Qatar.

The Russian team will, however, be free to participate at Euro 2020, as UEFA's tournament is not defined as a 'major event organisation' in relation to anti-doping breaches, report the BBC.

Russia, which has tried to showcase itself as a global sports power, has been embroiled in doping scandals since a 2015 report commissioned by WADA found evidence of mass doping in Russian athletics.

‘THE BIGGEST SPORTS SCANDAL THE WORLD HAS EVER SEEN’

Members of the Russia team take part during the Opening Ceremony of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at Maracana Stadium on August 5, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro

Image credit: Getty Images

Linda Helleland, WADA vice president told AP that she felt the sanction did not go far enough.

“I’m not happy with the decision we made today. But this is as far as we could go,” said Helleland.

“This is the biggest sports scandal the world has ever seen.

I would expect now a full admission from the Russians and for them to apologize on all the pain all the athletes and sports fans have experienced.

RUSADA EFFECTIVELY STRIPPED OF ACCREDITATION

Russia's Sergei Tetyukhin carries their country's flag as they lead teammates into the stadium during the opening ceremony of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games

Image credit: Getty Images

Monday's sanctions had been recommended by WADA's compliance review committee in response to the doctored laboratory data provided by Moscow earlier this year.

One of the conditions for the reinstatement of Russian anti-doping agency RUSADA, which was suspended in 2015 in the wake of the athletics doping scandal but reinstated last year, had been that Moscow provide an authentic copy of the laboratory data.

The sanctions effectively strip the agency of its accreditation.

Sports Minister Pavel Kolobkov last month attributed the discrepancies in the laboratory data to technical issues.

The punishment, however, leaves the door open for clean Russian athletes to compete at major international sporting events without their flag or anthem for four years, as was the case during the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics.

'RUSSIA'S DILEMMA' - THE VIEW FROM EUROSPORT RUSSIA

Mikhail Biryukov, Eurosport Russia: "Opinion is divided in Russia. Some believe that WADA's decision is too global and fits the trend of Russian isolation in world politics. Others accept the punishment and understand it could be much stronger and affect ordinary athletes.

"But both sides agree that the reason for the punishment is not WADA’s anger, but the wrong actions of Russian sports officials. They had enough time to protect young innocent athletes and maintain the country's reputation. But they focused on the mistakes of the past and lost everything.

"At the same time, we expect that a loss of cosmetic symbols like a flag or anthem will not let the world forget pure athletes come from Russia. It's important to understand that ordinary Russian people want to be proud of fair champions. Russians want all responsible to be punished for the sake of our future.

"But we now have a dilemma: a) ignore the Olympics because there will be no Russian flag, or b) go there and do a job. Most athletes and fans of course want to go. But some politicians and patriotic people will recommend to not do that."

Russia (Olympics games)

Image credit: Getty Images

'SANCTIONS EXCESSIVE', CLAIM RUSSIA'S OLYMPIC COMMITTEE

Some Russian officials have branded the call for sanctions unfair and likened it to broader Western attempts to hold back the country, while the president of Russia's Olympic Committee has branded them inappropriate and excessive.

"The position of Russia's Olympic Committee remains unchanged - sanctions are inadequate, illogical and excessive," Stanislav Pozdnyakov said.

"Of course, we are disappointed, but we initially assumed that the recommendations of the WADA Executive Committee would be approved without change, especially after the main points were made public."

Pozdnyakov also said the Russian Olympic Committee would do everything it could to enable Russian athletes to compete under the country's flag at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.

If RUSADA appeals the sanctions endorsed by WADA's executive committee, the case will be referred to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), WADA has said.

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