The big, huge, larger-than-life news this week that Kazi was focused on was not in OH-IO but rather in the upper echelons of the IOC – the International Olympic Committee. At stake is Russia’s eligibility to participate in this summer’s Rio Olympic Games. The WSJ explains:
Less than three weeks before the Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, an independent probe on Monday produced the most damning evidence to date of a vast, state-sponsored doping program run by Russian sports officials that included corrupting the testing lab at the 2014 Sochi Olympics.
For the International Olympic Committee, the report sets up a choice as delicate as it is momentous: whether to ban Russia from the Rio Games.
Last month, the IOC formally supported a ban on the country’s track and field team competing in the Games because of state-sponsored doping, and will now face considerable pressure to keep out the entire Russian delegation.
The evidence in question?
Among the findings was a system for identifying and replacing dirty urine samples during the Sochi Olympics…
Well naturally, this has been a point of contention among the finders of these facts, which have conveniently surfaced just three weeks before the Games. The United States contingent is “shocked” at the revelations:
IOC President Thomas Bach said the findings “show a shocking and unprecedented attack on the integrity of sports and on the Olympic Games.” Travis Tygart, who leads the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, called the allegations “mind-blowing.”
In all seriousness, it must be nice for the intrepid researches to have found such damning evidence at the last possible moment. The Sochi Games took place over two years ago, and with 15 business days left before the Rio Games commence, the bottle has been uncorked, the evidence found, the skeletons unearthed.
Moreover, these forensic findings become exponentially more challenging to uncover with each passing day. Materials can be destroyed, tampered with, or hidden. There is less manpower dedicated to revealing fraud and PED use in the years after a Games than leading up to it or at the Games itself.
Russia President Vladimir Putin is taken aback by the findings. That paragon of virtue and honesty has no place in his heart for cheaters, apparently:
Putin, who said there is no place for doping in sports, also suggested the doping scandal appeared to be an attempt to “exert pressure” on Russia.
Putin would clearly never condone the use of performance-enhancing drugs in an effort to bring glory to his nation when they are the hosts (or at any other time). Never.
It is disheartening to see drug use continue to be the headline in elite athletics. The fact is that of course Russian athletes were doping, just as the Chinese did in 2008 and the Canadians did in 2010…well, maybe not the Canadians, unless maple syrup is a drug.
But the point is this: The IOC will not suspend Russia because the facts have materialized too late and I suspect they don’t have enough evidence to truly convict the Russian delegation. There is one simple reason why this is coming to light today. It is to dissuade the use of PEDs in the Rio Games by proving that they can and they will catch the cheats and ban them.
So don’t pay attention to these doping stories. Pay attention to the athletes. Most are clean and their work is a spectacle that should be admired and applauded.
(Image Credit: IBTimes)