Short Take

by Rant on March 27, 2018 · 0 comments

in Doping in Sports

Here’s an interesting story from today’s New York Times. Hot on the trail of “Thomas Mann,” who was selling peptides. Check it out.

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Holy crap, I actually agree with Dick Pound.

“I believe that in the collective mind of a significant portion of the world, and among the athletes of the world, the I.O.C. has not only failed to protect athletes, but has made it possible for cheating athletes to prevail against the clean athletes,” said [Richard “Dick”] Pound, the former president of the World Anti-Doping Agency.

“We talk more than we walk,” Pound added. He said the athletes and the public “no longer have confidence that their interests are being protected. Our commitment to both is in serious doubt. With respect, I don’t think we can talk our way out of this problem.”

With essentially hours to go until the opening ceremonies of the PyeongChang Winter Olympics, a number of Russian athletes are still trying to get included in their events. Almost two years after the IOC banned Russian athletes from the 2016 Rio Olympics, a battle is still being fought over which Russian athletes can participate.

So far about 160 athletes are going to be able to participate as “Olympic Athletes from Russia.” A number of others are still awaiting the results of rulings from the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS). Those rulings should occur about 8 p.m. Central time, which is 11 a.m. tomorrow in PyeongChang. If all of the appeals were granted, that would account for about 207 Russian athletes competing in Korea over the next couple of weeks.  Update: At about 8:48 p.m. last night, the CAS issued a statement saying that the appeals for 47 athletes and coaches had been denied, so the number of Russian athletes competing will not change from the 160 or so who are currently slated to participate.

Thomas Bach, the president of the IOC, passed the buck as far as appeals go. From the same New York Times article as the quote above:

“The timing there was not in our hands,” Thomas Bach, the president of the International Olympic Committee, said at a news conference Wednesday. “Studies had to be done, evidence had to be provided, fair hearings for the Russian athletes had to be offered.”

Sure, all of that may be true. But this is a story that’s been going on since May 2016. Surely that’s plenty of time to get everything sorted out.

It seems to me like a number of athletes are being punished for past sins. The IOC has known (or should have known) that an organized doping program was going on in Russia (and before that, the Soviet Union) for decades. Banning the entire country’s athletes makes it look like the IOC has taken a stand. Which they did, sort of. But then they allowed for a process to enable individuals to compete under a different banner.

So in essence, the Russian Olympic Committee is banned, but a number of their athletes will be participating in PyeongChang anyway. Yeah, I get it, this is “individual justice,” as Bach calls it, while also

describing Russia’s actions as an “unprecedented attack on the integrity of the Olympics.”

But let’s be real. The idea that Russia’s program is an “unprecedented attack” conveniently ignores the history of doping at the Olympics. East Germany had an organized program from the 1950s until the fall of the Berlin Wall. The USSR did, too. So if this is what Bach says, that attack has been going on for a long, long time. By ignoring these programs for so long, the IOC definitely made it possible for dirty athletes to win. Shame on them.

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