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July 19, 2016 — The other shoe drops on Russia

Yesterday morning, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) released its response to the allegations found here.

The recommendations, less than three weeks out from the Rio Olympics, are staggering. They include not only the expulsion of the Russian Olympic team in every single sport (except under very strict criteria), but also the revocation of invitations for Russian sports and government officials. This includes everyone from Vladimir Putin to judges for synchronized swimming.

The WADA recommends sanctions over and above an Olympic ban. It also calls into question Russia’s fitness for hosting future competitions. This would include everything from the annual International Skating Union competition called the Cup of Russia to the 2018 FIFA World Cup.

That’s right; the 2018 FIFA World Cup is in jeopardy.

Part of the recommendations of WADA was to get the FIFA Committee of Ethics (which has a history of having anything but) to investigate the role of Vitaly Mutko, a Russian sports minister who is part of that committee.

And, as it turns out, he’s the chief of the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup and the 2018 FIFA World Cup. The original report from last year doesn’t implicate Mutko directly in the diversion of samples and other corruption in the country’s anti-doping apparatus, but, as Dick Pound of WADA mentioned last year, “It was not possible for him to be unaware of it. And if he was aware of it then he was complicit in it.”

We’ll know by this weekend exactly what the punishments will be, or whether Russia has enough pull within the International Olympic Committee to delay a penalty by weeks or even months.

The thing is, Russia has already had a black mark on it when it comes to doping allegations. Russian swimmers, gymnasts, and runners have had medals stripped for past drug use. The use has gotten so pervasive that one of the nation’s most high-profile professionals, tennis player Maria Sharapova, has received a two-year suspension for use of a banned substance.

But what I find shameful is that the Russian doping was so pervasive (according to this chart in Globetrotting) is that Paralympic athletes were responsible for the fourth-most positive tests.

Yes, the Paralympics.

Have you no shame, Mr. Putin?

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