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Dec. 7, 2017 — An unprecedented ban and some possible political blowback

Day before yesterday, the International Olympic Committee handed down an unprecedented ban just two months before the upcoming Winter Olympics in Korea.

The ban was on the Russia Olympic Committee, its athletes, its sports ministers, and even political figures. The reasons given were all found in the McLaren Report, a scathing document from a year ago which detailed a comprehensive doping regimen as well as countermeasures that were used in Russian anti-doping labs to fool officials from the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA).

A lot of the trickery was done with the knowledge of top sports minister Vitaly Mutko, who was banned from the International Olympic Committee for life. Mutko, however, has found himself chair of the local organizing committee for next year’s FIFA World Cup, which has already found itself under a cloud for creating a ridiculously easy group for the hosts, and putting top contenders Germany, Argentina, and Brazil into difficult pools.

Now, it’s been more than 80 years since Adolf Hitler attempted to use the 1936 Olympics to show off Aryans as a master race, but there have been plenty of other nations who have tried to use the power of international sport to exhibit the superiority of a culture, a political idea, or a system of government.

And, truth be told, it’s not just Russian athletes from today’s era, or East Germans from the 1970s, or Chinese swimmers from the 1990s who deserve this kind of scrutiny.

After all, it was an American firm named BALCO which created a designer drug that was formulated to beat any and all drug testing apparatus. The BALCO scandal reached deep into North America, affecting a generation’s worth of baseball statistics to the point when a large part of the last quarter century is being called “The Steroid Era.”

It also had an effect on world sport, as athletes like Lance Armstrong and Marion Jones were stripped of their wins and records around the globe.

So, why am I mentioning U.S. athletes in a story in which the Russians got caught and punished? Though a third of Russia’s medal haul from Sochi has been affected by this cheating scandal, there have been times when Americans have not been clean, especially in the mid-1980s. Look at enough film, and you can see the differences of several athletes over time as well as their performance abilities.

Too, there was the famous Wade Exum list of track athletes, including Carl Lewis, who failed drug tests during the same era in which Ben Johnson was caught.

I get the feeling this won’t be the last ban.

1 Comment»

[…] of you may remember this and this, both of which led to an announcement this week confirming the original Russia ban, but […]


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