It’s The Olympics Again — Must Be Time for More Doping Stories

by Rant on February 8, 2018 · 3 comments

in Doping in Sports, Olympics

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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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

MattC February 13, 2018 at 3:57 pm

Holy CATS! Rant, you slipped a post in on me unobserved! Good timing though. I’ve been wondering about this as we progressed towards the start of this years WO’s. On the one hand, I surely don’t know enough about their program (and who was in and who was not) to say whether all their athletes should be banned or not. IF there were clean athletes then why SHOULD they be banned? But on the other hand, it’s just what you talked about. Setting a standard. The Olympics is more than just individual accomplishments…(sort of). That the teams are there representing their country, and if a team is caught cheating then the entire team/country is penalized.

But that all aside, it’s fun to see it playing out again. There’s tons of drama, and watching athletes do their best and let the chips fall where they may (as far as medals) is pretty great!

And so…welcome back after a rather long hiatus! Good to have you back!

Rant February 19, 2018 at 9:25 am

Yep. I’m a sneaky one, aren’t I? 😉 Might even crank out another post in the next day or two. Especially given the news about the Russian curler coming up positive for meldonium.

MattC February 21, 2018 at 5:15 pm

That one really cracked me up…a CURLER positive for doping! I mean, SERIOUSLY?? I’m just not seeing the benefit…do they slide better on the ice holding onto that little broom and steering the roc doped? Was the guy like 97 years old and having a hard time hefting his ‘rocs’? (isn’t that what they’re called, rocs? seems I heard that somewhere) Ahhh yes, I can see it now…having a hematocrit of 57 makes you a WAY better curler! You could curl all day and night, totally outlasting your competition!

Nope…just not seeing it. Maybe it was just as simple as “you all will dope” and he was caught up in it. He was (is) on the Russian team…state sponsored doping program…maybe they required everybody to be in on it so nobody could rat them out w/out incriminating themselves? It sure doesn’t make sense (and btw, just WHAT IS meldonium? Sounds like a new heavy metal on the periodic table.

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