2017-12-05 20:59:50 UTC
think someone in the Kremlin doesn't quite grasp the concept of a boycott.
This is LONG overdue. It's amazing the Russians couldn't strong-arm or bribe
their way out of this one. I'm glad the IOC members finally located their
Russia Banned From Winter Olympics by I.O.C.
By REBECCA R. RUIZ and TARIQ PANJA
DEC. 5, 2017
LAUSANNE, Switzerland — Russia’s Olympic team has been barred from the 2018
Winter Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea. The country’s government officials
are forbidden to attend, its flag will not be displayed at the opening
ceremony and its anthem will not sound.
Any athletes from Russia who receive special dispensation to compete will do
so as individuals wearing a neutral uniform, and the official record books
will forever show that Russia won zero medals.
That was the punishment issued Tuesday to the proud sports juggernaut that
has long used the Olympics as a show of global force but was exposed for
systematic doping in previously unfathomable ways. The International Olympic
Committee, after completing its own prolonged investigations that reiterated
what had been known for more than a year, handed Russia penalties for doping
so severe they were without precedent in Olympics history.
The ruling was the final confirmation that the nation was guilty of
executing an extensive state-backed doping program. The scheme was rivaled
perhaps only by the notorious program conducted by East Germany throughout
the 1960s, ’70s and ’80s.
Now the sports world will wait to see how Russia responds. Some Russian
officials have threatened to boycott if the I.O.C. delivered such a severe
President Vladimir V. Putin seemed to be predicting a boycott of the
Pyeongchang Games, since his foreign policy in recent years has been based
on the premise that he has rescued Russia from the humiliation inflicted on
it by the West after the collapse of the Soviet Union. His spokesman, Dmitri
S. Peskov, has said no boycott was under discussion before the announcement,
however, and the news broke late in the evening in Moscow when an immediate
official reaction was unlikely.
In barring Russia’s team, Olympic officials left the door open for some
Russian athletes. Those with histories of rigorous drug testing may petition
for permission to compete in neutral uniforms. Although it is unknown
exactly how many will clear that bar, it is certain that the contingent from
Russia will be depleted significantly. Entire sports — such as biathlon and
cross-country skiing, in which Russia has excelled and in which its drug
violations have been many — could be wiped out completely.
Thomas Bach, president of I.O.C., has said he was perturbed not only by
Russia’s widespread cheating but by how it had been accomplished: by
corrupting the Olympic laboratory that handled drug testing at the Games,
and on orders from Russia’s own Olympic officials.
In an elaborate overnight operation at the 2014 Sochi Games, a team
assembled by Russia’s sports ministry tampered with more than 100 urine
samples to conceal evidence of top athletes’ steroid use throughout the
course of competition. More than two dozen Russian athletes have been
disqualified from the Sochi standings as a result, and Olympic officials are
still sorting through the tainted results and rescinding medals.
At the coming Games, Mr. Bach said Tuesday, a special medal ceremony will
reassign medals to retroactive winners from Sochi. But, in light of legal
appeals from many of the Russian athletes who have been disqualified by the
I.O.C., it is uncertain if all results from Sochi will be finalized in time.
The Russian Olympic Committee was also fined $15 million on Tuesday.
The punishment announced Tuesday resembles what antidoping regulators had
lobbied for leading up to the 2016 Summer Games, where Russia was allowed to
participate but in restricted numbers. It is likely to face a legal appeal
from Russia’s Olympic Committee.
The decision was announced after top International Olympic Committee
officials had met privately with Alexander Zhukov, the president of Russia’s
Olympic Committee; Vitaly Smirnov, Russia’s former sports minister who was
last year appointed by Mr. Putin to lead a national antidoping commission to
redeem Russia’s standing in global sports; and Evgenia Medvedeva, a two-time
world skating champion.
“Everyone is talking about how to punish Russia, but no one is talking about
how to help Russia,” Mr. Smirnov said, sipping a hot beverage in the lobby
of the Lausanne Palace Hotel before delivering his final appeal to officials
that afternoon. “Of course we want our athletes there, and we want the
Russian flag and anthem,” he said.
But that appeal was rejected in light of the conclusions of Samuel Schmid, a
former president of Switzerland whom the Olympic committee appointed last
year to review the findings of a scathing investigation commissioned by the
World Anti-Doping Agency.
When an Olympic medalist is caught doping, any medals he or she has won are
usually ordered returned, to be awarded to the next finisher in line.
Tuesday’s penalty was in line with what had been advocated by two key
whistle-blowers whose accounts upended Russia’s standing in global sports
over the last several years: Grigory Rodchenkov, the chemist who spent 10
years as Russia’s antidoping lab chief and was key to carrying out the
cheating schemes in Sochi; and Vitaly Stepanov, a former employee of Russia’s
antidoping agency who married a runner for Russia’s national team and was
the first to speak publicly about the nation’s institutionalized cheating.
“The world knows that hundreds of Olympic dreams have been stolen by the
doping system in the country where I was born,” Mr. Stepanov wrote in an
affidavit submitted to the International Olympic Committee this fall. He had
suggested banning Russia’s Olympic Committee for two years, or until the
nation’s antidoping operations are recertified by regulators. Russia and its
individual athletes are all but certain to miss the 2018 Paralympics given
regulators’ refusal to recertify the nation last month.
“The evidence is clear, that the doping system in Russia has not yet been
truly reformed,” Mr. Stepanov wrote.
Dr. Rodchenkov is living at an undisclosed location in the United States
under protection of federal authorities. In August, “Icarus,” a film
detailing Dr. Rodchenkov’s move to the United States and tell-all account,
Tuesday’s decision could have consequences for another major sports event
scheduled to be held in Russia, next year’s $11 billion soccer World Cup.
The nation’s deputy prime minister, Vitaly Mutko, was Russia’s top sports
official during the 2014 Sochi Games and was directly implicated by Dr.
Rodchenkov. As part of Tuesday’s ruling, Mr. Mutko was barred for life from
Mr. Mutko is also the chairman of the local organizing committee for the
World Cup, but FIFA said in a statement Tuesday that the I.O.C.’s
punishments for Olympic doping would have “no impact” on its preparations
for the tournament, which begins in June.