“Olympic Scandal-Epic Proportions”
You think of Russia, you think of its history.
You remind yourself of its leaders, what they did to their country, what they did to the world, what they did in the war.
This generation thinks of Russia and thinks of its leader Putin, corruption, graft, scandal, forced takeovers of neighboring countries.
History remembers Gorbachov and the breakup of the Soviet block, and President Reagin’s request “take down that wall”, and it did come down.
The past generations would remember Nikita Kruschev, and the USSR, and the military state of existence as the USSR.
Our fathers generation knew of Russia, and the regime of Josef Stalin, the wars, the deaths, the agrarian and mechanized society.
As the Olympics appear before us, we remember Russia, and its athletes.
The most famous was the Red Army hockey team, that lost in the Lake Placid Olympics. More recently, we think of the greatness of its gymnastics teams, or its basketball teams.
And now another horrific issue, involving Russia, a doping scandal of epic proportions.
The IOC is about to ban all Russian athletes from competing in the next few weeks from Rio, after the World Anti Doping Agency, (WADA), uncovered a massive state-run drug testing cheating campaign.
Over 311-tainted drug tests, hidden by Russians, replaced by other samples, that were turned over to WADA. More than 150-athletes in all, in various sports, allowed to compete in Moscow and in Sochi, eventhough coaches and administrators knew they were dirty. At least 31-gold medals won by those athletes in a a wide variety of sports.
Putin refuses to comment on the nearly 2-year probe. The scandal stretches back at least five years in this probe, but who knows how really far back it goes.
The remnants of cheating goes as far back as East Germany and the Olympics in the 1970s.
Russia would not be the first country banned from the Olympics. It’s happened before. South Africa went thru a decade long banishment because of aparthied. Afghanistan, because of its ties to the Taliban. India, because of bribery charges. And off course, post World War II, Germany and Italy.
We’ve had the US boycott in the Carter administration. And of course, the IOC and FIFA is reeling because of the the bribery and kickback financial scandals, unveiled in the last year.
Professionalism and big business are not at the intersection of the Olympic games. Gone forever is the linked rings logo that used to symbolize amateurism.
The simple solution is quite complex. Independent global testing, not done by a country’s federation. But to execute it in a timely fashion, leading into the games, is a logistical nightmare.
Testing in Boston is not the same as testing in Kiev. Testing in Congoville, may not be as easy as testing in Copenhagen. And it goes on an on.
There are clean athletes in Russia, not tainted by all this. A move to allow them to compete ‘unattached’ as independents, running and jumping without wearing a uniform with a flag, was proposed. But there is so much anger now over the depths and the tentacles of those who ran and financed this massive scandal in Russia, the bitterness will not subside.
We’ll watch America’s great swimmer, the Japanese gymnasts, the brilliant Ethiopian distance runners, but things just won’t feel the same.
The world athletics federations feel betrayed again. From Stalin to Putin, nothing seems to have changed in Russia, style, personality or methodology.