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Archive for December 9, 2019

Dec. 9, 2019 — An unbelievable penalty that should give pause

Today, it was announced that the International Olympic Committee was instituting a blanket four-year ban on international competition by athletes representing the Russian Federation.

This follows on the blanket ban of the Russian Olympic team in Rio, was extended through PyeongChang, and now runs through the Tokyo and Beijing Olympics.

This means that there are going to be two entire Olympic cycles without full participation from Russian athletes. Any athlete from Russia who wishes to participate in an Olympics is now required to compete as an unaffiliated athlete.

The ban from international competition is not only for multisport athletic competitions such as the Olympics. It also extends to the next FIFA World Cup in 2022. Oddly enough, it does not affect Russian participation in the European Championship for men’s soccer next year, as UEFA is not defined as a “major event organization” regarding drug testing.

Now that Russia is now pretty much a pariah in world sport, it’s instructive to note that it could have very easily been the United States in this position, given its role in sports doping in the last 90 years.

Let’s not forget the United States has mixed controlled substances with sport as early as the 1930s, when the six-day bicycle race required teams to ride lap after lap on a velodrome over the course of six days.

The United States, thanks to a long-forgotten team physician named John Ziegler, introduced the oral anabolic steroid methandrostenolone by 1960.

And let’s also not forget that BALCO, the laboratory that developed so-called “untraceable” steroids, was founded in California. The company’s athletic portfolio included a raft of American athletes such as Marion Jones, Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Lance Armstrong, Floyd Landis, and Bill Romanowski.

Makes you wonder if there’s more coming down the pike when it comes to blanket bans of athletes.