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Aug. 4, 2022 — Brittney Griner and a Hobson’s choice

There has already been a Twitter explosion this afternoon after Brittney Griner, the center for the U.S. women’s national basketball team, was sentenced to some nine years in prison for the possession of CBD products.

Media and pundits have already laid out glib solutions as to whether or not Griner should be involved in a prisoner exchange with Russia involving notorious arms trader Viktor Bout.

But somehow, I think this is too little of an endgame. Especially for someone like Vladimir Putin, who has been desperate enough in trying to regain its role as a world superpower that it is throwing its prestige, its soldiers, and its munitions into trying to take back one of its former Soviet socialist republics, The Ukraine.

I think, in the grand chess match, Putin wants something more significant. And it’s something he does not have right now.

That is, the full participation of Russians in most forms of organized sport.

Right now, Russians are personae non gratae in everything from the World Cup to Wimbledon to the Olympics. Of course, the reason for this is self-induced: a massive collusive conspiracy to not only provide performance-enhancing drugs, but to subterfuge the World Anti-Doping Agency’s testing regimen through substituting clean urine to laboratories.

Russian athletes in many different sporting endeavors have had to resort to many different tactics in order to be able to compete. In many multisport competitions, Russian nationals have had to compete as unaffiliated. In the last two Olympics, Russians have worn the uniform of the Russian Olympic Committee.

Others have declared for other former Iron Curtain countries such as Georgia, Belarus Poland, Hungary, Czechia, Azerbaijan, and Ukraine.

Now, I don’t think anything is going to happen in the Griner situation until a substantial escalation of demands happens. I think that a shortening of the worldwide ban on Russian athletes is going to be on the table.

We’ll see what happens.

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