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Dec. 19, 2020 — WADA’s surprising rollback

Some of you may remember this and this, both of which led to an announcement this week confirming the original Russia ban, but pulling back some of the stipulations two years.

There has been some righteous disappointment on the part of some officials and Olympic pundits about this move. And I can’t say I blame them: Russian government officials were caught tampering with databases to cover up hundreds of doping violations over the years.

But I think the Court for Arbitration for Sport’s decision is much more of a carrot than the proverbial stick. According to a communique:

It has considered matters of proportionality and, in particular, the need to effect cultural change and encourage the next generation of Russian athletes to participate in clean international sport.

In other words, the CAS seemingly does not want to punish hopeful Russian athletes who are likely to hit their physical peak three to four years out, but still punish authorities whose state-sponsored doping started in the leadup to the 2014 Sochi Olympics.

That’s fair, I guess. But, if you’ve been watching the series “Take the Podium” on the Olympic Channel, you’ll get an idea of the scope of the doping violations and just how many Olympic dreams were taken away from athletes who never doped.

I’m still looking to see further effects of American doping even after the end of the BALCO investigation. Given what we are seeing with the imminent announcements of Baseball Hall of Fame voting — and the presence of users like Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa, Roger Clemens, and Andy Pettite — the American sports nation has a lot to answer for.

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