On the Other Hand
The Olympic Games and those athletes that train and compete clean have always been tarnished by the cheaters.
As good Canadians we took our lumps and humiliation when Ben Johnson had his gold metal stripped away after testing positive for drugs. As a country, we moved on to become one of the leaders to clean up the doping culture at the Olympics.
Our long-time representative on the International Olympic Committee (IOC), Richard Pound, was instrumental in moving clean Olympic Games forward. Then recently Canadian professor Richard H. McLaren was hired by the World-Anti Doping Agency (WADA) to investigate allegations against Russia.
McLaren’s report uncovered clear and indisputable evidence of state-sanctioned doping and fixing by the government of Russia.
At the Sochi Olympics in Russia a small hole was drilled into the testing lab to replace urine samples of doped winning athletes with clean urine. Further it was the Ministry of Sports who decided which doped athletics would be protected and which ones would be left “dirty”.
In Juliet Macur’s book, “Cycle of Lies: the Fall of Lance Armstrong”, she covers in much detail how the Tour de France cycling great won seven races before the ‘code of silence’ was broken and his elaborate doping scheme was finally exposed.
The moral of the story is ‘no athletic dopes alone’.
But in the case of the McLaren report, it was the first conclusive evidence that a government at its highest ministry level was directing the doping.
Although very disappointing for clean athletics, it was not a surprise that the IOC leadership made the decision to allow two thirds of the Russian team into the Rio Games.
Morals historically have never got in the way of the IOC executive—a tight group of entitled, rich guys who forever have operated under allegations of corruption and bribery.
What a difference had the IOC banned the Russian team in its entirety. That would have sent a clear and powerful message to athletics, governments and national sporting federations that the IOC was serious about cleaning up the games.
Ironically rather than not punishing ‘clean’ Russian athletic as argued by IOC President Thomas Bach, in fact, their decision assured Russian athletics, future and present, no option to compete clean. If the decision had gone the other way, Russian athletics would have had substantially more power to stand up to their government’s political agenda and say no to drugs.
In sharp contrast to the IOU, on August 7, president, Philip Craven of the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) announced their executive had unanimously voted to not allow any Russian Paralympian athletics to participate in the Rio games.
“We had no option but to take this action. This is not about athletes cheating the system, but about a state-run system which is cheating the athletes,” said Craven.
The Russian athletics are not being received well at the Rio Olympics and when they win a medal, most sporting fans and clean athletes will be dismissive of their accomplishment.
Banning all Russian athletics would have put the blame squarely where it should have been – on the Russian government who uses athletics as a political tool. By making the decision they did, the IOU has put the shame and blame solely on the Russian athlete.
Same report, two different outcomes leads to only one conclusion. Corruption is cultural within the IOC executive whereas the IPC executive still believes competition can be clean.