Sports Burst - Russia's Doping Duds

REUTERS/Denis Balibouse

By Tim Stannard/beIN SPORTS

WADA hands four-year ban to Russia leading to World Cup and Olympic Games exclusion 

Eswatini, Mauritius, Bhutan - just three countries that are already out of the running for taking part in the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. 

On Monday, that list was joined by Russia who have been banned from the competition even before qualification has gotten underway. 

The reason for the sanction handed out by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) is the country's ongoing unhealthy relationship with doping that has seen its athletes missing from recent major tournaments including the 2018 Winter Olympics. Russia will also be banned from the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.

There is a get-out for some athletes though, in that if they can be proved 'clean' then they are able to compete under a neutral flag. This happened at the 2018 Winter Olympics. 

However, that is not so easy in terms of the World Cup, a team sport with a two-year qualification process. Besides, a slot for a group of players that don't really have any impact on the World Cup and largely go unnoticed - if they make it at all - is already taken up by the USA. 

Curiously, the ban does not have an impact on the 2020 European Championships where Russia are due to both play and host a game. The tournament is not seen as a "major event organization" in what is definitely a sleight to UEFA

Russia's sporting authorities are now able to appeal the ban and also take the case to the Court for Arbitration in Sport. 

Providing that Russia has not retaliated to the breaking news full a full nuclear missile assault, the Sports Burst live show will pour over all the hot goings-on from Monday morning. Head to our beIN SPORTS USA Facebook page at 12PM ET.

 

No Barcelona exits in winter transfer window 

Moving nicely onto all things UEFA and the final matchday of the Group Stages of the Champions League gets underway on Tuesday. 

Big teams that are still in jeopardy of not making it through to the next round are the holders Liverpool, Atletico Madrid, and Ajax. Barcelona will be relieved not to be in that group as the Camp Nou club is traveling to Milan on Monday to take on a sprightly Inter team who need a victory to give a chance of passing through. 

An Inter player is the talk of the town though with the hot-to-trot Lautaro Martinez reportedly in Barca's sights as the team's big signing next summer. Other than Neymar. 

The Argentinean international - handy to keep Lionel Messi happy - has scored eight Serie A goals this season and is seen as another candidate for replacing Luis Suarez. When asked about the player, Barcelona president Josep Bartomeu noted that the "question was a trap."

However, Bartomeu did reveal that he didn't expect any movement in the January transfer window, meaning that there would be no departures for either Ivan Rakitic or Arturo Vidal, who had been linked with a move to Inter. 

"We have a balanced squad. We don't miss anything, but we can't afford to lose anyone," declared the Barcelona big cheese. 

Barcelona and a certain Lionel Messi is likely to pop up in Magisterial: The Ray Hudson show on beIN SPORTS at 7:30PM ET. 

 

HAMMERS V GUNNERS IN EPL RELEGATION BATTLE

The weekend saw former players getting big wins for the their teams as managers in the Premier League - step forward Ole Gunnar Solskjaer at Manchester United and also Duncan Ferguson with Everton

Freddie Ljungberg at Arsenal will be hoping that a little bit of that luck rubs off on him and the Gunners on Monday in an away trip against West Ham United to end a run of nine games without a win in all competitions. 

If not, then a loss would leave Arsenal just four points from the drop-zone, which in turn sees Sports Burst officially putting the club into a relegation battle. 

West Ham are there already, to be fair, with the Hammers going into the game fifth from bottom and just a point from the relegation zone, a state of affairs which could see Manuel Pellegrini being jettisoned with a loss to Arsenal. "Pressure is there always," sighed the Chilean. 

Neither of these two teams are likely to make Weekend Winners with Hope Solo...but will Manchester United, Barcelona or Borussia Moenchengladbach be at the top of the rankings? Find out at 7PM ET on beIN SPORTS.