STATE-SPONSORED DOPING MENACE
Rio de Janeiro /Moscow : Russia now has the dubious distinction of becoming the first country in sporting history to have its field and track athletics team banned from Olympics due to the charge of state-sponsored doping.
In an unparalleled ruling that will increase simmering tensions between the Kremlin and the West – which have been already fanned by the recent expulsion of Russian football fans from France – the International Association of Athletic Federations said on Friday that Russia’s track and field stars cannot compete at the games in Rio de Janeiro in August.
Reason: some of the athletes had been found to be doping in November, for which the entire team has been blacklisted now. Russia has failed to prove that its athletes were clean from performance-enhancing drugs, said sources.
A provisional suspension was imposed in November when the bombshell report containing evidence of state-sponsored doping and corruption in Russian athletics surfaced. That provisional suspension was upheld on Friday.
The punishment of a world power for systematic doping is bound to have repercussions in the global arena. The Russian government is furious over the doping allegations, seeing the scandal as part of a western-inspired campaign against the country. Earlier in the day on Friday Vladimir Putin, Russian president, had warned the international community against singling out his country over misconduct in sport. A Russian ministry later said it was “extremely disappointed” by the decision to ban the entire team from the Rio Games. It appealed to the IOC to “consider the impact that our athletes’ exclusion will have on the dreams and the people of Russia.”
The International Olympic Committee has now scheduled a summit of sports leaders next Tuesday to address “the difficult decision between collective responsibility and individual justice.”
Two-time Olympic pole vault champion Yelena Isinbayeva is among the Russian athletes hoping to compete at Rio. She has threatened to go to court on human rights grounds if excluded from the games. Other cases could end up in the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
Many sports officials and athlete groups outside Russia had called on the IAAF and IOC to take a hard line, saying evidence of state-sponsored doping was a good enough reason to disqualify the whole track team.
Former WADA president Dick Pound, whose report led to Russia’s suspension, said he saw little reason for the ban to be lifted. “I don’t think it’s an easy case to make that all should be forgiven,” he told The Associated Press. “A lot of credibility is at stake for the Russians, the IAAF and the IOC. If you’re convinced it’s a state administered system, your athletes have to pay the price for that.”
St Petersburg: President Vladimir Putin, however, is insistent that there is no state-sponsored doping in Russia. “There isn’t and cannot be any support on the government level of violations in sport, especially on the question of doping,” Putin said at the annual economic forum in Saint Petersburg.
“There cannot be collective responsibility of all athletes,” Putin added. “The whole team cannot bear responsibility for one who committed a violation” of anti-doping regulations.