The Effect of the Russian Doping Scandal

Laura Washington

The effect of the Russian doping scandal on Rio 2016
After Nik Chamberlain's account on the Russian doping scandal last week, MasterClass' Laura Washington continues the debate on what impact this saga will have on the Rio Games...


Following the revelation that there will not be a blanket ban on Russian athletes competing at the Olympics. Russian athletes Vitaly and Yuliya Stepanov stated that “there will be athletes who have used doping in Russia in Rio”. A lot of the media surrounding this scandal is about Russia, but what about the other athletes?

For Olympians travelling to Rio this summer it is an opportunity of a lifetime to represent their country in a sport that they have most probably been training in for years. Their life for the last few years has been dedicated to that moment when they will stand up to compete for their county.

Imagine this, only to turn up and stand next to a Russian athlete. Have they taken performance enhancing drugs? Are they cheating? Are they stronger than you? Better than you? Maybe you’re not as good as them? How can you possibly win against someone that is clearly going to be better than you?

I would imagine that these are just a few of the thoughts going through an athletes mind before they compete in one of the biggest competitions in their lives. What physiological affect does this have on athlete?

There have been several studies to suggest that self-confidence is the key to great performance. Self-confidence gives and athlete the strength, focus, motivation and positive mental attitude to believe they can win. If they doubt their self-confidence how does this affect their performance?

These thoughts regarding the Russian athletes are ultimately going to cause an athlete some self-doubt in their ability to win. This is an issue that athletes are going to have to try very hard to ignore and maintain a positive attitude to perform at their best. Adding yet another task and athlete must add to their pre competing routine which I can only imagine is already fairly mentally challenging.

Secondly, is the support that non-Russian athletes get going to be affected by this scandal?

How believable will the Rio Olympics be with Russian athletes competing? For many I expect they will start to doubt more than just the Russians. From interviews in the media the public have said “they have lost hope in sport”, “they don’t believe what is on the screen anymore”, “I will be suspicious of everybody”.

There are certainly a lot of questions about the Russian athletes floating around at the moment. Everyday there is an update in the news of new athletes being banned from competing. 

Will the 2016 Rio Olympics be tainted by this scam? I think it is fair to say that if a Russian athlete wins a medal there will certainly be a lot of questions and doubts going through people’s minds.

All I can say now is Good Luck to Team GB!!

Author: Laura Washington