Russian Jeopardy

With the 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janerio just weeks away, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) is deciding on a bold yet controversial move; banning Russian athletes from competing.

Evidence showed that Russian officials have not only faked athletes drug tests, but also provided the drugs to begin with. Thus, a doping scheme has been confirmed by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) who is insisting on the IOC to put the ban in full force on Russia. Pressure has mounted on the IOC as this is considered to be one of the largest sports doping scandals ever to exist. Sure, athletes in the past have been banned or had their medals removed after testing positive on their drug test, but this isn’t an athlete it’s an entire country.

14 nations have since called upon IOC President, Thomas Bach, to deny Russia’s Olympic Committee and their athletes to compete in Rio. The cheating became massive just two-years ago. There were claims of state-sponsored doping by Russia that found 28 summer and winter sports affected by the state-operating cheating in Russia. Russia was then suspended from the track and field events by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) last year due to the widespread of state-doping.

President of the Russian Olympic Committe, Alex Zhukov, is insisting that athletes who have never failed a test should be allowed to compete. A true point to come across since a handful of Russian athletes could still compete as neutrals for the Rio Games. The athletes actually tested positive on their drug tests all come through a 325 page report from former WADA President and Canadian Lawyer, Richard McLaren.

In the McLaren Report, he accused Russia’s sports ministry of over-seeing doping of the country’s Olympic athletes. He also found evidence of the Russian Olympic Committee running a wholesale doping program from 2011-2015. At least 312 doping tests that were falsified by Russian officials in the last five years. Again, a clear indication that a doping scheme was in use.

Now even though one of the world’s most powerful nations cheated and showed corruption in many ways, the IOC seems reluctant to band the entire Russian team.

That could all change as the Court of Arbitration for Sport issued a verdict today on Russia’s track and field team. The Arbitration court rejected Russia’s appeal of 68 of their athletes seeking to overturn the ban from the IAAF. The three person panel ruled that the Russian Olympic Committee was “not entitled to nominate Russian track and field athletes to compete at the Olympic Games considering they were not eligible to participate under the IAFF competition rules”.

Will the IOC ban Russia from Rio and possibly the 2018 Winter Olympic Games too? If this does happen, the IOC will face even more pressure to consider a broader ban on not only Russians, but those who continued to test positive on their drug tests. Luckily, there are no signs of a boycott from Russia which they will not partake in. The Soviet Union however, did stage a boycott before the 1984 Summer Olympic Games in Los Angeles.

Russia’s participation in the Rio Olympics hangs in the balance as the International Olympic Committee will explore options for this big scandal. It will be very hard to satisfy everybody as the doping scheme has become a harsh reality for Russia, its athletes, and their people.


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