The Cost of Winning

Nic Chamberlain

Russian Olympic Doping Scandal
As the continuing number of Russian Olympic athletes banned from Rio 2016 continues to rise, doping, once again is a main topic of discussion.


After WADA (World-Anti Doping Agency) had investigated came to the conclusion that Russia had a statewide doping system which included  Russian secret agents and a secret lab in Moscow that helped with tampering of samples that couldn‘t be tampered with in the Autumn of 2015. 

The only organisation that took immediate action against Russian athletes were the IAAF (International Association of Athletics Federation) were it imposed a ban on the Russian athletes.  Others were waiting on a final decision from the IOC (International Olympic Commitee) who were waiting on the finding from the Mclaren Report which was to be made public in mid-July.  Once the report had been released and the court of arbitration for sport (CAS) upheld the IAAF‘s ban on Russian athletes from Rio 2016 the IOC held and emergency meeting to decide on how they will deal with all the sports.  The reasoning for waiting to make a final decision is understandable as there are a few avenues that this situation could go.  But the IOC were not prepared, or at least it didn‘t seem prepared for possible outcomes and being quiet since the report was made public hasn‘t helped them look like the leader you would expect from the governing body of the Olympics.  As soon as the report was made public they should have immediately had a meeting and figure out how they were going to deal with Russia. 

On a side note, this wouldn‘t have been the first time they have got involved with a country as they banned India for governemnt interferance in Decmber 2012 and lifted the ban once the Indian Association had followed the guidelines set by the IOC.  This situation though, without a doubt much more catestrophic as an issue as it surrounds the biggest problem that seems to go hand in hand with the Olympics.  Doping is always an issue but nothing has ever been found on a scale this great.  High Russian officials sactioned this practice, not an athlete, the athletes team, a drug lab but the actual government.

Had the IOC immediately put into effect a total ban on all Russia competing at the Olympics they would have looked like an organisation that has a zero tolerance on doping and would surely have had backing from all nations, athletes and most likely the CAS.  This would have also been a win for those want to expose the cheats as it would have encouraged more to do the same but after the IOC taking a back seat it will deter others to do the same.  Also the Russian whistelblowers are currently in hiding in America.  Allowing each sports governing body to make a final decision looks like a kid who tipped all the toys out of the basket and when told to clean up only put the toy they were playing with away thinking that would be enough.  A massive step in the wrong direction by the IOC and they have made themselves look worse by only putting that one toy away by banning those Russian athletes that have previously been banned.  Yet, they are allowing two time offenders in Justin Gaitlin and Tyson Gay to compete.  Indiviual governing bodies are taking actions by banning those athletes mentioned in the Mclaren report but it will still cast doubt over those Russian athletes still being able to compete.  Interstingly one country has been banned from the Olympics.  The Bulgairan weightlifting team will not compete and even had their ban upheld by the court of arbitration for sport after a failed appeal attempt.  This is because the International Weightlifitng Federation specifically wrote a clause in it‘s doping rules allowing a breech of those rules to be suspended from the olympics which the IOC did. 

I wonder had this been a country with less political influence, less of a figure within the world and Vladimir Putin not been a friend of the current IOC president would this have turned out differently?  I‘m on the side of that it would have.  Had a smaller country fell foul to the rules and the findings of the Mclaren report I‘m convinced they would have not competed at Rio 2016.  Now everytime you see a Russian competing, see a Russian win a medal or even see a Russian flag the whole doping issue will be brought up and discussed in depth when there should be no focus on them as they should not be there.  The IOC have let done all those athletes who have been working hard and clean their whole lives, those nations who follow strict guidelines, the WADA organisation and more importantly what the Olympics stand for.

Author: Nic Chamberlain, MasterClass Football Coach