For sure, Russia should be ashamed – but it isn’t: for state sanctioning a doping regimen - that tainted and blew away the 267 athletes of the 2016 Russian Paralympic team, that stained the 2014 Sochi Winter Games, and led to the ENTIRE, oops almost entire, save for long jumper Darya Klishina (who, days ago, was axed for doping – better late than never) Russian Track and Field contingent being barred from Brazil’s Olympics.
In fact, Russia wasn’t ashamed - it was indignant. It appealed the decision but Switzerland’s Supreme Court shot it down.
Mr. Mutko has been Minister of Sport, Tourism, and Youth Policy for eight years. This scandal happened under his watch. Is he the guy to turn things around? For his part, he’s reached for low hanging fruit, blaming the Western media for his country’s terrible sporting reputation.
He’s in the stage of denial with these weasel words: “...we have problems in this area...”
Utterly understated - and missing from A to Z - the point. He then added fuel to his foolish fire, with:
“Our athletes continue to be barred for unclear reasons.”
What is, however, clearly-unclear is why Russian para-athletes would dope. In their defense, maybe they were forced to by government officials.
Definitely and definitively para-athletes, everywhere, represent courage and commitment at unfathomably high levels. It would seem, given their heroics, they wouldn’t take PED’s - unless pushed and peddled by Tsar-like Putin.
The ban was instituted because of the McLaren Report.
What is the McLaren Report? It was an examination by Richard H. McLaren, a professor specializing in sports law, of the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics and the shenanigans leading up to that.
The 91-page study, boils down to this:
“The Moscow Laboratory operated, for the protection of doped Russian athletes, within a State-dictated failsafe system, described in the report as the Disappearing Positive Methodology. The Sochi Laboratory operated a unique sample swapping methodology to enable doped Russian athletes to compete at the Games. The Ministry of Sport directed, controlled and oversaw the manipulation of athlete’s analytical results or sample swapping, with the active participation and assistance of the FSB, CSP, and both Moscow and Sochi Laboratories.”
So does this ban of Russia’s disabled competitors throw out the baby with the bathwater, being too draconian, punishing clean athletes along with cheaters? Is it, therefore, totally unfair?
Mutko and other Russian officials think so, railing against this as being an egregious example of assessing a collective guilt in place of individual responsibilities and failings. Maria Zakharova, an information director for the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, fulminates, via Facebook, that the decision was “strikingly filthy.” Vladimir Lukin, President of the Russian Paralympic Committee, called it a “GRAVE HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSE” - which is a pretty rich, considering that that country, historically, has treated its citizens like kitty litter.
And it’s ironic that Mother Russia would pan collective responsibility, given that it, and its predecessor, the USSR’s, revered the COLLECTIVE, communistically-speaking - as a be all and end all...
Anyway, Russia comes by its dishonesty, honestly. It has been ardently messing with drugs in elite sports since at least 1983 – and its fellow Eastern Bloc country, East Germany, flagrantly abused steroids in sports to sick levels -stuffing so much into male and female subjects – they almost made one sex into the other - all in the quest to prove their system was better than the West’s.
Russia’s current chicanery is in the same vein.
But what is a new vein - is the plain speaking by folks like Sir Philip Craven, the International Paralympic Committee president. He accused Russia of prioritizing “medals over morals.”
Now what of Putin’s role? Given that his government is, just that, HIS – there is no way that Vitaly Mutko would have a leash long enough to sanction the Russian Federation to cheat so completely. Putin’s THE guy – this shame is on him.
And what does Vlad get out of this international scorn? Not the kind of publicity he wants - for consider now, that the three-times-as-many-medals won in Sochi by Russia, are faker than his silly-putty, plastic face. He and Russia look like fraud freaks.
Putin puts the blame on a “shadowy political plot.” (Craven, for his part, admits he hasn’t a clue as to what part, if any, Putin played in all of this...)
But of this, we can be sure: the IPC (International Paralympic Committee) has whomped the IOC (International Olympic Committee) in showing, and in demonstrating, firm, definable, decision making - uncowed by wily, and wild, political or media pressures.
The IOC, you might recall, didn’t ban the whole Russian Olympic Team for its doping – creating caustic conversations and much consternation at the Rio Olympics 2016.
And, to their credit, at least, so far as we know, Russian Athletes who have cheated DID COMPLETE their events, unlike complete frauds like marathoner Kendall Schler, or triathlete Julie Miller who, literally, short circuited their competitions.
Ultimately, maybe we all should allow athletes to take whatever drugs they want. Some will go off the deep end in their quest for gold and glory – but they’ll probably pay the price, physically, and physiologically, and psychologically later.
Who has time, really, or cares, truly – figuring out what drugs were delved in - and what drug tests were delivered?
Perhaps yesteryear’s Russian 400 metre star, Tatyana Firova, a three-time Olympic winner of silver, sums up the increasingly predominant (and resigned) viewpoint on drug-taking by elite athletes – and by their many followers - today: “How else can we achieve high results?”
Or perhaps peruse (probably) Putin's thoughts, via Pravda:
“They tried to hold Russia down by imposing blanket bans on athletes - clean athletes who have never taken an illegal substance in their lives - just because someone with a grudge said something to willing ears.”