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JapanNews/2017/12/7 20:11

IOC is right to exclude Russia from Winter Games over systemic doping

The Yomiuri ShimbunConsidering the sheer scale of its outrageous doping, banning Russia from participating in the Olympics was a natural step to take.
Russia has been banned from competing in the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics in February after state-orchestrated “manipulation” of the antidoping system was discovered.
The ban was decided by the International Olympic Committee’s Executive Board. The Russian Olympic Committee, which has been suspended by the IOC, has become unable to send a team of athletes to the Games.
Russia, which is a sports powerhouse, has many leading athletes in Winter Olympic events. If athletes such as Evgenia Medvedeva, a female figure skater tipped to be a gold medal contender, are unable to compete in Pyeongchang, the level of competition at the Games will inevitably decline.
The fact that the IOC shunted aside the drawbacks that might arise and took the bold step of banning Russia from participation at the Games speaks volumes about just how serious that nation’s doping problem is.
Russia performed poorly at the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics. But in the 2014 Games held in the Russian city of Sochi, Russian athletes won 33 medals — more than double the number from four years earlier.
Since then, 11 of these medals, including four golds, have been revoked. This is because retesting of samples confirmed a string of doping violations. Twenty-five Russian athletes have been handed lifetime bans from the Olympics.
Stick to resolute stance
It appears the reality was that whatever it took to win medals was done. There is a wide range of sports in which athletes were found to have violated doping rules. It is natural to assume that systemic doping was being conducted in many sports.
The Russian Olympic Committee has again denied there was any state-organized wrongdoing, saying suspicions the government supported doping have not been proven.
The IOC insists the Russian Sport Ministry and other authorities must take responsibility for the situation under which organized doping spread. This is an understandable view.

Doping, which involves using drugs to improve athletic performance, is a practice that disrespects the spirit of fair play that is the foundation of sports.
The IOC allowed many Russian athletes to compete at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Summer Olympics. The IOC was peppered with criticism that it was weak-kneed because its approach differed strikingly from that of the International Paralympic Committee, which issued a blanket ban on all Russian athletes at the Rio Paralympics. The IOC’s latest decision appears to be a result of lessons learned from that experience.
The door has been left open for Russian athletes proven to have no connection to doping to participate as individuals under the Olympic flag. It is essential that consideration be given to clean athletes. The IOC must fairly and strictly determine which athletes can compete.
As long as Russia does not root out a system that has become a breeding ground for doping, the same problem will arise in relation to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. The IOC should stick firmly to its resolute stance.




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