Corruption · IOC · Scandals

O-Minus 11: Russia’s Lucky Break

The 2016 Olympics haven’t even begun and doping’s already been a hot topic (well, maybe continuing hot topic, since anti-doping agencies are still coming out with drugged results from Olympics past). To catch you up, many Russian athletes in many sports–including pretty much its entire track & field team–have been banned for doping. The problem seemed like a systematic state-sponsored program, so there was a push for the IOC to ban the entire team from coming.

And the IOC didn’t.

Well, they looked into it. And they were properly shocked. But they ultimately decided to pass the buck and let each individual sporting federation decide the Russians’ fate–and they’re supposed to do analysis on athletes’ doping testing records and make the ultimate decision on whether they can participate. By August 5.

Who’s shocked about this? The IOC did say they won’t accredit officials from the Russian Sports Ministry, and they said it’d be a good idea to move scheduled major winter sporting events out of Russia, but those are really small sanctions against a much larger problem.

Russia was pleased by the decision because it means that innocent Russian athletes don’t get punished. However, there’s a lot of outcry against the IOC’s statement because if the doping’s state-sponsored, the state should get punished. Is it fair to those clean athletes? No, but then neither were the USSR and USA Olympic boycotts.

What will be interesting is to see if any federations end up banning Russian athletes before Rio 2016–or if we’ll be reading about athletes who doped at Rio for years to come.

In other news, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has reinstated Rio’s drug-testing lab, which is good news, as it’ll be able to conduct tests during the Olympics, and the Games won’t be forced to send samples overseas for testing.

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