IOC Russia Rio ban a real balancing act

Source:Global Times Published: 2016/7/27 18:13:01

Illustration: Liu Rui/GT

Editor's Note:

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has decided not to issue a blanket ban on Russian athletes during the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio, but instead barred Russian track and field athletes from competition due to anti-doping violations. What can be drawn from the scandal? The Global Times has collected three opinions on the issue.

Putin's positive spin a winning political play

According to the IOC, whether Russian athletes can compete in the Rio Olympic Games should be decided by International Sports Federations (IFs). In fact, the IOC's decision has saved Russia from a blanket ban following the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) report. The IFs claimed earlier that it would not impose the ban on all athletes, and with the exception of track and field, all Russian teams are expected to join the Games as scheduled. Anti-doping is of vital importance in modern sports. The International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) announced last week that it would not restore the membership of the All-Russia Athletics Federations (ARAF), which denies Russian track and field athletes' entry to a number of international events, including the Rio Olympics.

The IAAF imposed a ban on the ARAF in November for systematic doping and large-scale corruption. It decided to extend the ban in March after Russia failed to meet the requirements for reform. The IOC stands firmly with the IAAF.

However, the decision by the IAAF and the IOC is denounced by Russian officials as a well-planned political conspiracy and a result of political intervention into sports. Russia's opposition had little help in lifting the ban, but has made the IAAF and other individual sports federations more suspicious of Russia's doping problem. Appeals to ban on all Russian athletes from Rio Olympics have since been frequently heard.

In fact, the IOC's decision is closely linked to Russian President Vladimir Putin's stance. Putin stated earlier that "Everyone knows very well the situation around our application for the Rio Olympics, and the well-known decisions associated with the use of doping. In this connection, I want to stress once again: the official position of the Russian authorities, the government and the president, all of us, is that there can be no place for doping in sport."

As a politician, Putin is clear that the conspiracy theory will not make the IAAF, with doping evidences in hand, to lift the ban. The determination to fight against doping is the only way to win trust from the international sports organizations.

After consulting with IOC President Thomas Bach over the issue, Putin proposed to establish an independent organization to further the fight against doping.

It is Putin's attitude that has prompted the IOC to make the decision in favor of Russia, the significance of which lies not only in the Rio Olympics, but also Russia's national image and reputation.

Absent athletes a win for longtime rivals

The aftereffects of Russia's doping scandal have gone far beyond the sports field. While Russia and the US-supported WADA are in opposition against each other, and between them is the IOC, the party with nothing to gain from the scandal. Which will benefit from the event is worth exploring.

The decision of whether to ban a sports power from the Olympic Games less than two weeks before the opening ceremony has triggered heated discussions worldwide. The IOC finally passed the final decision to international sports federations.

While the IAAF must prepare for the Russian athletes' absence, other sports federations have to decide on the eligibility of every Russian athlete and deliberate on the list of alternates within 10 days. It is extremely difficult to find a solution that satisfies everyone.

For the last 50 years, Russia has not failed to place among the top five medal winners of the Summer Games, and has long been considered among the three most powerful performers alongside China and the US.

Although the UK surpassed Russia for the third spot in the medal table during the London Olympic Games four years ago, Russia still walked away with 24 golds.

Russian athletes never fail to deliver outstanding performances in track and field, gymnastics, judo, wrestling, synchronized swimming, volleyball, boxing and other events.

During the last Olympic Games, Russia won eight gold medals in track and field alone.

The intentions behind the UK-dominated IAAF's ban of Russia's track and field team from Rio are self-evident.

But the UK will ultimately not benefit much from the scandal. China, incidentally, has no conflicting athletic interests with Russia as the two countries tend to dominate different events.

It is Japan, which will host the 2020 Summer Games, that is the most disappointed by Russia's continued participation in the Rio Olympics.

Japan and Russia are long-standing rivals in judo, wrestling, synchronized swimming and other programs. Tokyo is investing more in competitive sports programs for the 2020 Olympics as well.

In this sense, Russia's eventual participation in the upcoming Rio Olympics will challenge Japan's performance.

Guangzhou Daily

Dirty tricks don't make clean Games

In international athletics, the fight against doping requires consistent and uncompromising effort. But in the meantime, anti-doping is abused for political purposes, and conjecture of anti-doping being used as a power-play against opponents to rig contests is prevalent.

A penalty imposed by IAAF banning Russia's track and field team's participation in the upcoming Rio Olympics was endorsed by the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

The IOC recognized the IAAF penalty, but denied the complete ban on Russian players in the Olympic Games proposed by some anti-doping organizations. The IOC ultimately permitted Russia's delegation to participate in the Games, minus their track and field team.

The IOC had met an unprecedented challenge. Amid the complications created by anti-doping politics, it is not easy for the organization to remain sensible while sticking to a necessary punishment and avoiding collateral damage. 

International sports are in dire need of reform. There are two documents released by the IOC addressing these issues - the Olympic Agenda 2020 and the Charter of Sports Reform issued in 1930. Pierre de Courbertin, founder of the IOC, knew the importance of such reforms and laid out the problems that had emerged in sports, such as the quests for profit and materialism.

But more than 80 years later, these problems continue to compromise the world of sports, especially the Olympic Games.

Sports are not battles. They are neither business nor political tools. Sports offers a platform for all of humanity to come together. It embraces pluralism and cooperation.

The Olympic Games play a leading role in boosting global sports and building a world community. Using the mistakes of others to gain an advantage is against the spirit of the Olympics.

All players are clean, and all games are fair - this is ideal we look forward to.

Only through extensive education and rigid regulation can the Olympic Games, and global sports, avoid new crises.

People's Daily

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