Corruption · IOC · Olympics · Rio 2016 · Scandals

O-Minus 7: How Many Russians Does it Take to Make a Delegation?

So the fallout over the Russian doping scandal continues. The track & field team got banned. The IOC said that clean athletes (as determined by national federation, not by them or anything) could come on down, but hey, guess what? It’s taking a little bit of time to figure out if there are any other doping athletes in their midst.

So far over 100 have been denied their Olympic opportunity. Along with all but one of the athletics team, some swimmers, modern pentathletes and rowers are staying home.

But the fencers, volleyball teams, triathletes and table tennis players are A-OK. They get added to the equestrians, shooters, tennis players, archers and judoka. Everyone’s probably happy that the judo players have been cleared, seeing as how that’s Putin’s sport.

Not surprisingly, Putin’s less than thrilled about the sitch and believes his country’s been unfairly targeted. Even the TASS news agency reports the Russian Olympics Committee president saying this will be the cleanest Russian team ever. Well, yeah, now.

In the meantime, the Russians who are cleared are heading to Rio, and they’re stuck with the stigma of their no-longer national teammates. They’re all going to get asked about the doping scandal, and every Russian who wins will be second-guessed.

For those of us at home, this story is quickly becoming sports business as usual. Inside the Games writes about a study showing that the more doping scandals there are, the less people care about the Olympics. Hell, one of the seminal books on the Olympics is no longer being updated because it’d be out of date before the Games, and the author would have to spend so much time rewriting past Games’ results due to medals being stripped from late doping discoveries.

All of this spells more trouble for the IOC. Sure, in a week they’re going to revel in the razzle-dazzle of the Opening Ceremony and marvel at the outstanding competion we’ll see–but will they be the real, authentic athletic performances that we want to see? Or will they be an illusion? And if it’s not real, perhaps it’s not worth watching.

That’s not what the IOC wants to hear, especially from a younger generation that craves authentic experiences. Hopefully this smaller Russian delegation, while not the numbers and the medal-winning opportunities that the country hoped for, will be the clean delegation the IOC needs.

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