After a bit of a debate about the Russia doping scandal that is being touted in the media as grounds for banning the entire country from the Rio games, I thought I’d take a look at the statistics.
First, I liken the scandal(s) to elementary school whereby an entire class is made to be responsible for the bad behavior of one child. The argument was that this is what the military does in order to create a team atmosphere of trust and dependence. That may be true, but the elementary school is not and should not be – the military. And the Olympics by definition is about competition – and while there are team sports, there are singles as well, so the team concept is only so good as it applies to a team sport – one size DOES NOT fit all – not in dresses – and not in the real world.
Banning those individuals who tested positive for banned drugs is imperative, but banning an entire country sets a precedent that will require multiple definitions and possibly instigate hundreds of lawsuits.
The countries with the highest precedence of testing positive for winter Olympic events are: Greece, China, USA, Canada, Australia, Korea and England – in that order. Not once has an entire country been banned despite unprecedented and continued use of drugs. The question then becomes, ‘how many individuals must test positive before a country ban is legal’? If Russia is found to have 30 cases, and Greece has 29, then what is the rule?
According to the anti-doping rules as set forth by the Olympic Committee, sanctions are imposed on athletes – not countries. If the Committee wants to make entire countries responsible, then a whole canopy cocktail of rules would have to be prescribed to stipulate at what point it is no longer about individual athletes, but about an entire country’s athletes. Guidelines, numbers, verification, would all be necessary or the rules could ultimately apply to Greece, China, US, etc… and we would have no Olympics.
As well, most of the allegations against Russia so far that are in the media are circumstantial, and while ‘accusations’ have been fomented, they have been levied against 8 Russians out of 23 total for the 2012 games and 14 out of 31 accusations for the 2008 games. But so far, the report is all about allegations without evidence, a whistle blower with an agenda. The politics behind the current situation are significant. To be able to ban a country based on yet unproven allegations would be criminal – in our court system.
The fact that a particular lab was cited makes sense, but a particular athlete, a cross country skier was also named by the Committee whistle blower – however, the skier was living in Europe and coached by a German… tested five days each week and passed. This obviously does not fit the profile of the Russian lab, so now we are in a flux of Truth and Truth sayers…whistle blowers with a vein for vengeance, and innocents who deserve to be given their chance.
In perusing the names of athletes sanctioned for doping, the list is daunting – logging in more than 70 individuals in just the “C’s” – 10 from the US and 4 from Russia. It IS a problem. But it is NOT a country problem – it is pervasive and it is influenced by every country participating. Maybe the C list is just an anomaly of US accusations. Ummm, no – in the “D’s”, 6 were US and 2 were Russia.
Perhaps the substance abuse should be the problem we focus on instead of a country. In US sports, 52% of professional football players used opiates, and 9% admitted to using steroids. Be careful the precedent you set because it could come back to bite you and you and you.
It’s like guns – guns don’t kill – people do. Drugs are used by people who abuse them. People. Not Countries. Just ask – Lance Armstrong. The problem is prolific. Address the disease. It needs to be cured!