Numerous unanswered questions remain regarding the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) ban of Russia at the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics. Clean Russian athletes will be permitted to participate under the name “Olympic Athlete from Russia”. Gold medal winning Russians will be “honored” with the flying of the Olympic flag and anthem. In the weeks leading up to the IOC decision, Western based English language mass media was stacked with extremely mis-informative commentary, which favored a collective punishment of Russia.
The New York Times (NYT) and some others actively suggested the insulting singling out of Russia which the IOC has approved. Days before the planned December 5 decision on Russia’s 2018 Winter Olympics status, the so-called “whistleblower” Grigory Rodchenkov, advocated (in The NYT) a formal Russian Winter Olympic ban, with only clean Russians participating as neutrals. Responsible patriots the world over can criticize their respective country in a fair and balanced manner, that’s not intended to unfairly bring shame to their country. That desire is different from Rodchenkov’s NYT approved advocacy.
Rodchenkov is essentially a NYT puppet. That “paper of record” has run a series of exclusives with him. Otherwise, Rodchenkov hasn’t been readily available for critical (not puff segment) follow-up. It’d be journalistically and legally appropriate to see his full unedited “diary”, that supposedly details a direct Russian government connection to sports doping. To date, some cherry picked quotes from that recollection have been released.
Rodchenkov has made a series of extraordinary claims about a concerted Russian government involved effort to cover-up Russian doping at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics. Ethically, he’s a failed medical doctor, who was fired from his sports related position in Russia for having engaged in illicit activity. After getting canned, Rodchenkov’s take against some others, serves to take attention away from the stated basis for his getting released. With that in mind, it’s inappropriate to accept his claims without clear proof.
Legally going after Rodchenkov (as has been suggested) is a limited move. Elements within the IOC and World Doping Agency (WADA) have declared him “credible”. Hence, Rodchenkov isn’t the sole source to legally pursue. Regardless, there’s also the matter of a very unsympathetic (to Russian concerns) Western influenced factor, thereby making it difficult to successfully prosecute Rodchenkov and his IOC/WADA supporters.
On this score, the Western chauvinist reply will casually claim a paranoid irrational conspiratorial mindset. Upon further review, the opposite exists, inclusive of some unpunished, unethical advocacy, that has been very much covered up in the “free press”.
At the 2016 Rio Summer Olympics, the IOC gave authority to the individual sports federations to decide on how their respective sport should be monitored. The International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), launched a near complete ban of Russians from the track and field competition at that Olympiad. Darya Klishina was the lone exception, on account of her being US based. Just before Klishina’s event, there was a crude last ditch effort to have her banned. Other than Klishina, clean Russian track and field athletes weren’t allowed to compete at the last Summer Olympics.
To date, the IAAF maintains a policy of clean Russian athletes participating as neutrals. The IAAF very recently upheld this stance. The timing of that announcement served to influence the anti-Russian ban for the upcoming Winter Olympics.
Concerning Russia, the IAAF President Sebastian Coe, is on record (from months ago) for seeking to share his federation’s experience with other sporting bodies. Coe has shown little, if any concern for the clean Russian track and field athletes, who were denied Olympic participation at Rio. It’s not as if these Russian athletes were never tested outside of Russia, while seeking further testing. Coe’s morally flawed behavior is highlighted by his effort to get drug cheat Yulia Stepanova to compete at Rio, unlike the clean Russian athletes, including legendary pole vaulter Yelena Isinbayeva and world class hurdler Sergey Subchenkov. Coe’s motivation has been influenced by Stepanaova and her ex-husband making negatively unsubstantiated claims against Russian track and field athletes, in a German TV aired propaganda documentary. Keep in mind that Stepanova got busted for doping in Russia Her seemingly changed attitude happened after that development.
The just announced IOC decision against Russia is said to be based on new “evidence” obtained since the 2016 Summer Olympics. Canadian sports legal politicos Dick Pound and Richard McLaren, are among the leading anti-Russian proponents. They’ve indicated a satisfaction if the Russian government formally acknowledged fault for something that hasn’t been substantively proven and remains quite dubious. Specifically, the claim that Russian athletes en masse have been doped through a clandestine Kremlin supported effort to achieve athletic success.
This dubious charge states that about 1,000 Russian athletes participated in that regimen. Upon further review, one finds that figure to exceed the number of Russian athletes who were available to compete in the last Winter and Summer Olympics and Paralympics. (Care of some extreme Western chauvinism, Russia was completely banned from the 2016 Summer Paralympics.) Yet, the overwhelming majority of these Russian Olympians/Paralympians haven’t been found guilty of a doping infraction.
On the one hand, we’re told that the Russian government masterminded a sophisticated clandestine system of cheating. This alleged covert operation appears clumsy in not having its tracks covered, as exhibited by releasing Rodchenkov in the way pursued. Rather interestingly, the December 5 IOC decision emphasized Russian Olympic Committee culpability for faulty anti-doping testing, without implicating the Russian government.
As of this writing, it remains to be seen what the level of Russian participation will be in Pyeongchang. In Russia, there’ve been mixed messages on this particular. There’s also the matter of Russian athletes being held to much higher drug testing standards than other athletes. With that in mind, it might be hypothetically possible for clean Russian athletes to be denied, unlike those who’ve not been as strenuously tested. This scenario can happen on the premise that a Russian athlete hasn’t been adequately tested enough – even though such a person has been typically more arduously screened than their non-Russian peers. It’s sheer crock to believe that sports doping is an exclusively Russian phenomena.
Whatever the Russian participation in Pyeongchang, Russian fans should proudly wave their country’s tri-color, while loudly chanting Rossiya! Symbolically, these acts will serve as a well deserved middle finger to the sanctimonious blowhard likes of Dick Pound, who has been especially pious.
Michael Averko is a New York based foreign policy analyst and media critic.