In December 2017, Russia was officially banned from the 2018 Winter Olympic Games for doping charges. This is a big deal because Russia is one of the largest countries to compete in the Olympics, and because of the country’s previous issues with doping allegations.
Due to Russia’s disqualification, Russian athletes who have not tested positive for doping will still be able to compete and possibly win, but it will in no way count for their country and they will be required to wear neutral colors. In addition, Russia’s anthem will not be played nor have their flag displayed during the opening ceremonies, even when Russian athletes place in their respective sports.
Personally, I believe this should be pursued to the fullest extent. As one of the biggest competitors in the Olympics, Russia should know better. To top it off, Russia has a history of breaking rules and doping. From 2001 to 2009 Russia was convicted of numerous doping charges and had athletes suspended from the Beijing Olympics. During this time the blood samples taken from Russian athletes showed some of the highest levels the International Association of Athletics Federation had ever seen. According to German TV network ARD, Russia was also using a shadow lab in 2014 for the Sochi Winter Olympics that would swap tampered samples with clean ones.
Russian President Vladimir Putin attempted to spin the story, saying America was behind this scandal and accusing the United States of creating the scandal to disrupt the Russian presidential election by making Putin look bad and harming his chances at re-election. This is far-fetched for a few different reasons. First, America doesn’t have much to gain from this. We are currently in the lead for gold medals globally with 1,118 compared to Russia’s 194, and America usually does well in the Olympics overall. Second, disrupting the Russian election wouldn’t guarantee that Putin would lose or that someone better would become elected and resolve issues between Russia and America.
The bottom line is simple, Russia has no one to blame but themselves. The ban is justified and I’d even say the athletes caught doping and any other participant caught helping should be considered for a lifetime ban from the Olympics.
Jake Sorenson for SUU News