Following an independent report that confirmed the existence of a state-supported Russian doping program at the 2014 Sochi Olympics, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) decided days before the games began, to allow Russian athletes to take part in these summer Olympic games.
This came after a decision to ban the Russian track and field athletes was upheld by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS). Last weekend, the International Paralympic Committee banned Russia from participating in the upcoming 2016 Paralympic Games for allegedly violating international doping rules.
The Russian doping scandal and investigation began back in May when Russia’s former anti-doping director, Grigory Rodchenkov, told The New York Times that he had been ordered by state officials of the ministry of sport, tourism and youth policy to suppress evidence of performance-enhancing drug use by the Russian Olympians at the 2014 Sochi Games.
Rodchenkov explained how he developed the perfect anabolic steroid cocktail that allowed Russian athletes to recover quickly from their competitions so they would stay in peak shape during their Olympic run. Alcohol was used to speed up the absorption of the steroids. Rodchenkov went on to say how athletes were instructed to stockpile clean urine for months so they could be swapped for dirty samples at the lab – through a hand-sized hole in the wall – in the middle of the night.
(OK, this is SO going to be made into a movie – and I want Sorkin to write it!)
As of now, the Russian track and field team will be barred from competing in Rio. Consequently, IOC rejected a bid from Russian runner and whistleblower, Yulia Stepanov, to compete as a neutral athlete.
The committee has left the decision as to whether Russian athletes can take part in individual sports up to international governing federations. The IOC has demanded that Russians athletes provide proof of a positive anti-doping test. Currently, 118 competitors of the 389 Russian team have been banned.
Call me a cynic, but I never believed the IOC would take such a bold step and ban an entire nation from competing – especially one as prominent in international sports as Russia. Plus, I’m betting there is fear of #PutinBackLash.
Would it be fair to penalize an entire delegation of athletes for the faults of a few? My first thought is no, it’s not fair. But then when I consider the possibility (and probability) it was state-sponsored, and the decision to cheat allegedly came from top government officials, then I say yes, they all should pay. Medals-over-morals ain’t going to fly…
So why are ALL the Paralympic athletes banned? Because the Paralympics aren’t as prestigious?
What do you think about the Russian doping scandal? I’d love to hear. It’s an interesting topic of conversation for the dinner table….that’s for sure. #SportBits … a little bit of info is all you need.