This afternoon, the International Paralympic Committee did what the International Olympic Committee would not.
The IPC, in banning Russian athletes from next month’s Rio Paralympics, has decided it would take on the organized doping regimen in Russia and its backers, which allegedly include cronies of President Vladimir Putin.
The positive drug allegations were outlined in the MacLaren report released by the World Anti-Doping Agency. It showed that Russia had allegedly doped a number of Paralympic athletes as well as participants in Olympic events.
“I believe the Russian government has catastrophically failed its para athletes,” said IPC president Sir Philip Craven. “Their ‘medals over morals’ mentality disgusts me. The complete corruption of the anti-doping system is contrary to the rules and strikes at the very heart of the spirit of Paralympic sport. It shows a blatant disregard for the health and well-being of athletes and, quite simply, has no place in Paralympic sport. Their thirst for glory at all costs has severely damaged the integrity and image of all sport.”
Russia, while competing in the Rio games, have already had some 110 athletes banned from rowing, weightlifting, and track-and-field. And there are certainly other athletes yet to be caught in the increased surveillance of WADA.
But what I find interesting is the effect that WADA has already had on certain athletic competitions in the United States. I find it interesting that, for yesterday’s individual road race, only two Americans were on the start list.
The doping of the 1990s and 2000s, which altered the competitive balance in many sporting endeavors, had an enormous effect in American cycling. Doping sanctions have wiped out eight Tour de France victories and ended the careers of just about everyone who was on the old U.S. Postal Service team.
And regrettably, the blowback from the misdeeds of Lance Armstrong, Floyd Landis, and their cronies has pretty much ruined the burgeoning professional and amateur cycling ranks in this country.
As much as Russia has done in terms of doping, don’t forget that a lot of doping — a lot of it — was done in the U.S.