Barring Russia will tarnish Olympic spirit

Source:Global Times Published: 2016/7/18 23:48:00

Russia is facing an international public relations crisis again. The World Anti-Doping Agency on Monday released a report into allegations of state-sponsored doping in Russia. According to Western media, anti-doping bodies from at least 10 countries, including the US, Canada, Spain, and Japan, and as many as 20 athlete groups, plan to submit a letter to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach on the same day, to demand Russia's entire team be banned from the upcoming Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro next month.

Calls for sanctioning or boycotting the Olympics, unexceptionally by Western organizations and media, have often been heard in recent years, while Russia is their No.1 target. This included threats of boycotts hung over the Sochi Winter Olympics two years ago as Russia passed a bill deemed as discriminatory against LGBT community. This year Russia has been hit by doping allegations.

The International Association of Athletic Federations has barred Russia's track and field athletes from Rio for doping offences. It's already a heavy punishment. Now Western anti-doping agencies are demanding the entire Russian team be excluded. Their aggressiveness is shocking. Is this merely because of doping? Their paranoia can be easily spotted by a third party. Doping must be stamped out. But is it credible that all Russian athletes are drug users?

If the penalty over a small number of athletes, their coaches and the Russian government, the alleged "sponsor," implicates other innocent sportspersons and makes their four-year preparations for the Olympic Games come to nothing, this is not in line with the spirit of the Olympics. In 1980, the US led a boycott of the Summer Olympics in Moscow to protest the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. Four years later, 19  countries, led by the Soviet Union, blacklisted the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles in a tit-for-tat move.

The Olympic movement suffered losses from these boycotts. From then on the IOC has stressed on many occasions it opposes any form of boycott or discrimination against the Olympic Games, no matter the reason.

Sports analysts hold that should Russia be barred from Rio, the Olympics will face a major crisis, but a complete rejection is unlikely. Russia is a sports power. Without Russia's participation, the Olympic competition will not be complete. The IOC is unlikely to be interested in a decision that will hurt itself.  The threats to ban Russia from the Olympics are an unprecedented shame and humiliation to the country. Some anti-doping agencies totally disregard Russians' feelings.

Now Russia can only count on the IOC's rationality. US-led Western countries, by virtue of their powerful economic, political, cultural and military strength, have dominated the rulemaking and value judgments of the world and their interests have been placed at the center of international society. It's hard for non-Western countries to defend themselves under such a system. There is still a long way to go to achieve genuine equality. 

Posted in: Editorial

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