Olympics Syndrome/ Ãëàâíàÿ / Russkiy Mir Foundation / Publications / Olympics Syndrome
In the well-known Russian film Assa the primary antagonist, the boss of the criminal world played by Stanislav Govorukhin, suggests playing a game of “Bangladesh.” The rules are simple: you must name any number. His naïve partner says, “seven.” “I win,” concludes the ranking criminal. “I guessed eight.” It seems that the World Anti-Doping Agency and the IOC are playing by these same rules.
After the Russian Paralympic team wasn’t allowed to participate in the Rio games last year on account of the doping scandal, there remained a very thin hope that the Olympic officials would show good judgment and Russian athletes would still be able participate in the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea.
On 5 December 2017, the IOC rendered their verdict, decisively canceling the plans of the Russian athletes. In accordance with this decision, the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) will forego any involvement in the Olympics and no employee of the Russian Ministry of Sports will be accredited for the coming Winter Olympics. Those Russian participants who nonetheless come to the Olympics will receive the ill-defined designation “Olympic athletes from Russia.” Our country’s anthem will not sound during the awards ceremony, and the Olympic flag will be raised instead of the national one. The president of the ROC, Alexander Zhukov, will have his membership in the IOC revoked, while the Deputy Prime Minister of Sport for the Russian Federation, Vitaly Mutko, will never be accredited for the Olympics. This is a brief enumeration of the measures that were enacted against Russia for athletic doping.
The Russian Olympic Committee must repay the 15 million dollars expended to conduct the doping investigation. Nonetheless, it was stated that the special committee did not find a state-level system of supporting doping among Russian athletes.
It is evident that the purity of the game, in which one must observe the rules and “play fairly” (as the slogan of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) declares), is far from the true motives behind the anti-doping scandal.
Firstly, if everything’s aboveboard, the same rules should apply to everyone, not only to Russian athletes. After all, according to the published data, the World Anti-Doping Agency gave permission to over 200 American athletes to take special substances. It is sufficient to cite the tennis players Venus and Serena Williams, the gymnast Simone Biles, and the basketball player Elena Delle Donne, who all took banned substances for a prolonged period of time on the basis of a so-called “Therapeutic Use Exemptions.” According to her doctors, Simone Biles suffers from an “attention disorder” that prevents her from performing at full strength without taking special substances. But perhaps in such a case these disabled athletes should be sent to the Paralympics, if they haven’t been able to get read of “terrible” ailments for all these years. It is likely that the ranks of the American Paralympic team would be very impressive.
Secondly, there are also questions about the list of banned substances itself. For some reason, they prefer to include Russian medical developments on it, while leaving out American ones. For instance, Meldonium was invented and first registered in the USSR in 1976, but it was included in the World Anti-Doping Agency’s list of banned substances only in 2016. What’s more, the doctors don’t perceive it as a real means for curing diseases but only as a substance for general strength building without any markedly expressed side effects. By the way, the Russian President Vladimir Putin spoke out about Meldonium: “No one said anything about Meldonium, everyone took it for their whole lives, then a ban was suddenly declared on taking it and our athletes started getting disqualified. All of this looks like an entirely orchestrated and politically motivated decision. We can see this. I don’t have any doubts about it.”
It’s well known that the Americans were the first to adopt doping in order to achieve great results. They conspicuously edged out first the Soviet Olympic teams and then the German Democratic Republic, which was among the camp of socialist countries.
Thirdly, there is much to reproach regarding the evidentiary basis for the accusations made against our athletes. Besides the evidence provided by former director of Russia’s Anti-Doping Center Grigory Rodchenkov, the commission has practically no other proof in their possession. It is not possible in any civilized trial to construct a system of accusations based on the testimony of just one person. Such an approach is not validated by a single norm of national or international law.
Fourthly, for some reason the entire Russian team was banned from competing, even though it includes quite a few so-called “clean” athletes, who passed all their tests on many occasions. International law doesn’t presume collective responsibility either.
They only began to “fight against” doping on a systemic level in 1999, when they also formed the WADA, which now dictates its own rules in a sports world game of “Bangladesh.”
There is also a purely commercial aspect to this whole process. A very powerful lobby of advertisers has formed around the Olympics with an interest in advancing primarily Western manufacturing. They have a very great interest in excluding their competitors at all costs in order to create a corresponding atmosphere of consumer excitement around the products and services that will be associated with their sportsmen. This is especially true of the Americans, who are obviously not especially talented at winter forms of competition.
The Olympics are ultimately a massive show, where new achievements must always be shown off. However, human capabilities are limited. Humanity has changed very little physiologically over the past several millennia. And so all kinds of substances come to our aid. There’s fierce competition among individual manufacturers. But certain substances end up on the banned list for some unknown reason, while others that are just as harmful to the human body, if not worse, are not banned. Certain athletes are allowed to take even the banned substances, while others categorically cannot. “Advertising is the motor of commerce,” a famous slogan proclaims. And every means is acceptable, even if they are blatantly dishonest.
Let’s get back to the history, though. In their commentary, the Western media does not hide their excitement about Russia being banned—and the emphasis falls less on the doping tests and other very specific issues than on politics, comparing the ban on Russia to the bans preventing Germany and Italy from participating in the Olympics. This very fact confirms from the beginning the political version of these occurrences.
Let’s remember several historical facts. Bans on participation in the Olympics have been based upon political motives for the entirety of the 20th century. Thus, in 1920 Germany and its allies in the First World War were not allowed to participate in the summer Olympics in Antwerp. In 1924, Germany was once again, now alongside the USSR (the reasons for banning our country were quite banal—a total political and economic boycott, to which an athletic boycott was added), were banned from the Olympic Games in Paris. When the fascists came to power in Germany, this didn’t have any impact on the IOC’s decision to hold the 1936 Olympics in Berlin. Interestingly, the 1936 Winter Olympics also took place in the Third Reich, in Garmisch-Partenkirchen. And this was despite the fact that in every way the Nazi regime showed their hostility toward other races and their blatant anti-Semitism. Hateful anti-Jewish slogans were temporarily removed from the streets of German cities for the Olympic games, but this didn’t prevent them from soon reappearing in the same place. The Soviet Union didn’t take part in these games. In 1948, the German and Japanese teams missed the Summer Olympics in London and winter games in St. Moritz, Switzerland, as these were the countries that caused the Second World War. In 1964, the South African team was not allowed to compete in the Tokyo Olympics on account of the apartheid.
Economic sanctions are in place against Russia, which—such an interpretation cannot be ruled out—constitute a banal attempt to exclude a competitor. These measures are clearly not bringing about the desired result that their authors were counting on. They needed to find another “pressure point” right away. It wasn’t hard to find one, since it’s well known how popular sports are in Russia.
One cannot disregard the coming presidential election in Russia, in which Vladimir Putin has declared his intention to run, speaking before the works of the Gorkovsky automotive factory. It is very likely that they were counting on lowering the acting Russian presidents very high rating among his numerous supporters. It would have been simply unthinkable for our detractors to miss such a chance right on the eve of the election by allowing the Russian team to participate in the Olympics in South Korea. Of course, in the past similar acts have only caused the Russian people to rally and backfired on those who advanced them. In this case, they can only achieve the opposite effect—reinforcing the Russian president’s authority. I’m certain that our athletes will win at the Olympics more than once, with the Russian anthem playing and the Russian tricolor raised high.