The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) recently banned the Russian Athletic Federation from competing in international sporting events for the next four years. The ban includes exclusion from the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics and the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar, and it has been met with defiance and frustration from the Russians. However, given Russia’s repeated deception and lies to international bodies, this punishment is well-deserved.
One of the greatest honors for any country is to be able to host the Olympic Games. In 2014, Russia held the Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia, granting the Russian people the opportunity to prove their dominance in sport. Unfortunately, the Russian government abused this honor.
The Russian Federation encouraged its athletes to take illegal performance enhancing drugs, also known as doping. There are measures WADA takes, however, that try to catch those who are involved in this scheme; one of these measures is a urine test.
If someone had taken illegal drugs, the urine would be tainted. Therefore, all of the athletes that doped had tainted urine. However, the Russian government installed a system where urine samples would be taken to a laboratory where the urine was supposed to be checked for drug usage. Instead, the Russians would pass the tainted sample through a wall to be disposed and would take a clean sample to be tested. This almost movie-like scheme helped earn Russia 33 medals and 13 gold medals at the 2014 Winter Olympics in an allegedly fair manner, but most of these medals were arguably undeserved.
“The countries that lost to Russia must feel cheated out of their life’s work,” freshman Bryan Matute said.
WADA discovered Russia’s actions and offered them a clean slate if they proved that the doping program in Russia had ceased. Russia, in fact, lied again to WADA and had a prior ban lifted. Nevertheless, WADA found out, and the current ban being imposed is a result of these several repeated offenses.
The constant cover-ups from the Russian Federation have finally come to bite them where it hurts, and the lack of action from WADA was a mistake on their part in the past, giving Russia the false impression that the organization can be walked-all-over. However, this new, bold and surprising course of action from WADA has established the notion that no one is above the law, not even in sport.
This ban does not come without its flaws, though. The terms of the ban leave several loopholes that the Russian Athletic Federation can exploit, one of them being that Russia can still compete at next year’s Union of European Football Associations in 2020. Russian players still have the option of competing in the Olympics under a neutral flag if they prove their innocence. This was also the case in the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Also, Saint Petersburg is still allowed to be one of the host cities for this tournament in the summer of 2020.
Some may argue that these exceptions make the ban weak and worthless. However, the ban is actually a good precedent. It emphasizes that sport must remain fair and that the WADA is not afraid to reprimand those who break these rules of fairness, no matter the country.
“If the Russian athletes are going to be punished, they must all be banned, without exception and without question,” junior Clyde Shaw said.
Although the ban does have some loopholes, it is fair. The Russian Athletic Federation cheated their way to gold, wrongfully denying respectable athletes of their deserved recognitions. Their schemes and plans were orchestrated by the Russian government and were of such grant scale, that it would be impossible for Vladimir Putin not to notice. Their actions have undermined the sport raising the question of the validity of athletes’ abilities. Russia lied and lied again, and they must pay the price for their actions. If they are not reprimanded, it will set a dangerous precedent, not just for Russia, but for sports around the world. The sporting organizations must combat the Russian roots of this doping plague before it spreads and contaminates sports everywhere.