The I.O.C. Finally Stops Tiptoeing. And Russia Pays the Price.

The Olympics is actually a money grab flooded with lies and political favors and dominated by countries using their wealth and sporting prowess showing off their power. Sure, the I.O.C. could tolerate that.

But competition itself cannot be considered a tale. The results can’t get fiction. Sponsors wouldn’t choose that. Viewers may not tune in.

Consequently, in came the long-lost integrity police. And out gone the Russians. They will be barred from the 2018 Games for what I.O.C. President Thomas Bach called an “unprecedented assault on the Olympic Games and sport,” while some to-be-determined quantity of Russian athletes are certain to get to participate if indeed they can prove some to-be-determined amount of performance boosting drug-free living.

It took Bach a season of investigators’ nit-picking through details and records before he pretty much decided that, well, yes, that initial record was true.

To that, clean sportsmen everywhere should state, well, finally.

“It’s an excellent step for clean sportsmen,” said Lowell Bailey, an American biathlete and recent globe champion who has been outspoken about doping. “But it’s a dark working day for Olympic sport. I believe most sportsmen who compete tidy would state that they want the broadest field of competition at the Olympics because that’s merely the spirit of competitiveness. No-one wants to show up and also have a weak field.”

He added: “I’m glad that the I.O.C. has taken these actions, but I do hope that stands as really a turning point for the security of clean sport.”


The I.O.C. is apparently taking this rules-breaking really for a change, and it displays in the way they are managing Russian athletes who wish to prove their innocence and compete in Pyeongchang. An unbiased task force will determine which Russian sportsmen will get invited to, let’s state, try out for the Games, which will be held in February.

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The panel of specialists will scrutinize the athletes’ drug-testing records to search for any suspicious results. The main element is normally that the officials won’t get those from international federations, which are the global governing bodies of sports activities. Because when it comes to those federation officials, unbiased they aren’t. Those organizations are responsible for their sport’s rules, advertising and membership, and are ultimately in charge of the sport’s success and growth. Consequently making their sports glimpse good is their work.

Before the 2016 Games, the I.O.C. made such international federations in charge of vetting Russian sportsmen to look at which ones would compete in Rio. It didn’t go very well.

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The international swimming federation charged an eight-person panel with devising a plan about how to screen its athletes for the Games. The panel developed strict standards to identify which swimmers ought to be barred from the Games, based on standards like earlier drug positives or suspicious bloodstream profiles. The federation looked at the recommendations, considered the recommendations – and then, with no explanation, tossed the recommendations.

Three officials on that panel, including the chairman, quit in protest because the swimming federation ignored their advice. Ultimately, the Russians dove in to the pool area in Rio, just like everybody else – as though their nation followed the guidelines, just like (most) everyone else.

“Keeping the federations engaged is like the fox watching the henhouse,” Travis Tygart, leader of america Anti-Doping Agency, said.

The I.O.C. threw Russia some bones. Their sportsmen who compete in Pyeongchang will get discovered as “Olympic Athlete from Russia,” giving them the snappy acronym OAR, and the ones OARs may be able to march as Russians during the closing ceremony. But Russia’s jig is normally up. Its Olympic committee has to reimburse the I.O.C. for the costs of the investigation and pay out a $15 million fine, which isn’t that much given that the Russians spent a lot more than $50 billion to sponsor the Sochi Games to begin with.

Some Russians are wearing T-t shirts that say, “No Russia. No Games,” hinting that a few of the populace is normally contacting for a boycott of the Olympics, and therefore the clean Russian sportsmen who have the chance to compete even now wouldn’t take part in the Games.

But sportsmen don’t want that. Lowell Bailey doesn’t want that.

He started cross-nation skiing found in preschool. He transitioned to biathlon when he was 15, and his podium dream had period to percolate. It took him until his 30s to finally help to make a World Cup podium, in 2014. He finished third, while a Russian biathlete was second. With time, Lowell transferred up to second when the Russian was trapped for having doped.

“I tell people given that I finished second, and that feels good and I have that on paper, on paper, nonetheless it doesn’t hold a whole lot of weight with regards to emotional benefit,” he said.

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Consequently many athletes have suffered at the hands of Russian athletes and coaches and sports administrators – so far 11 Russian medalists from Sochi have been sanctioned and were stripped of those medals. (To be good, these Russians have some illustrious American predecessors, like Marion Jones and Lance Armstrong.) The sheer brazenness of the procedure dished up as a wake-up call for the I.O.C., the one that finally made the business undertake Russia, when it could’ve just backed straight down.

But it didn’t. For a change.

It’s important. Let’s look at if the I.O.C. will follow through. Bach may just do it because his organization’s future reaches stake. The whole idea of the Olympics could be at stake.

“I guess the most important matter that hangs in the total amount is that kids around the world, future Olympians, are seeing this,” Bailey said. “I am hoping the I.O.C. knows that we cannot lose the integrity of the Olympic movements. It’s just too important.”

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