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The Russian Olympic Doping Scandal: The End of the Affair?

Reinstatement of Russian Olympic Committee is an attempt to draw a line under the scandal

Despite considerable backstairs pressure the International Olympic Committee has decided – as was widely expected – to reinstate the Russian Olympic Committee after the end of the PyeongChang Winter Games despite two Russian athletes failing doping tests.

The International Olympic Committee seems to have accepted that these two doping violations were individual cases and were not evidence of any larger doping conspiracy in Russia.

I should say that on balance I think this is correct.  Two extremely shrewd observers of the international scene – Rick Sterling and The Saker – have both expressed the opinion that the doping violations might have happened because the athletes’ food or drink was spiked by those who want to prevent Russia’s reinstatement in the Olympic movement.

That is far from being a farfetched theory, but it is necessary to say that there is no actual evidence that it happened, and people do from time to time do bad and stupid things.

As to where the opposition to Russia’s reinstatement has come from that has been made all too clear by the comments of Adam Pengilly, the British Olympic Committee’s representative on the International Olympic Committee, who has recently been forced to resign after being sent home from PyeongChang following an altercation with a security guard.

Speaking to the Times of London, here is what Pengilly is reported to have said

When athletes cheat deliberately they get a four-year ban, when a national Olympic committee cheats deliberately it may yet get only a two-and-a-half-month ban.  I don’t see that as justice and I don’t see that as an appropriate ban for Russia.

(bold italics added)

What is or should be concerning about these comments is that as a former member of the International Olympic Committee Pengilly must presumably know that the highlighted words are untrue.

The International Olympic Committee’s own Schmid commission has said in its report that there is no evidence that any member of the Russian Olympic Committee was involved in any doping conspiracy in Russia, and that no one is suggesting that any members of the Russian Olympic Committee were

The IOC DC notes that neither the IC’s nor the IP’s Reports mentioned the participation of the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) in the system.  No findings appeared during the IOC DC’s investigation to contradict these statements.

Pengilly’s comments however are all of a piece with Western commentary about the scandal.

It continues to be said ad nauseam that the existence of a government organised state sponsored doping conspiracy in Russia has been “proved” whereas the Schmid Commission actually said the opposite, and it continues to be said that the Russian Olympic Committee was involved, even though the Schmid Commission has said that it wasn’t.

This constant and unchallenged repetition of things which are not true calls into question whether the Russian Olympic Doping Scandal really is over, as both the International Olympic Committee and the Russians apparently hope.

WADA remains implacably hostile, and continues to insist that Russia accept the McLaren report in its entirety as a condition for having its national anti-doping laboratory (‘RUSADA’) reinstated.

This is despite the fact that WADA has admitted that RUSADA conforms to the highest possible standards, and also despite the fact that Professor McLaren has admitted to the Schmid Commission that he has no evidence that Russia’s Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko or other member of Russia’s government had any actual knowledge of the doping violations that were going on.

Meanwhile Dr. Grigory Rodchenkov – the corrupt scientist at the centre of the doping scheme – continues to be hailed by the Western media as a ‘whistleblower’ and hero.

During the PyeongChang Games he was repeatedly interviewed by the Western media – disguised in various bizarre costumes supposedly in order to protect himself from (non-existent) threats to his life – with his various claims of Russian state involvement in the doping conspiracy endlessly repeated and accepted as true.

In not one of the interviews of Dr. Rodchenkov that I have seen was he asked about the failure of the Schmid Commission to substantiate his claims of a government organised state sponsored doping conspiracy in Russia.  Nor was he asked to respond to what the Schmid Commission says about his corrupt dealings in the past.

Moreover so far as I am aware the decision of the International Association of Athletics Federations (“IAAF”) to suspend the Russian Athletics Federation – making it impossible for Russian track and field athletes to compete in most international competitions – remains in effect.

All that unfortunately makes it very likely that come the next Summer Olympics in Tokyo in 2020 the Russian Olympic Doping Scandal will in some form be revived, and we will see a repetition of the same thing all over again.

In truth no one in my opinion comes out well from this affair.

WADA has been exposed as a grossly partisan body, committed to preserving the dominant position of Western sports bodies in international sports, and supporting Western political agendas.

Perhaps the only good thing that has come out of this scandal is that WADA’s gross partiality has finally been exposed, causing WADA to come under growing criticism, for example in this courageous letter to IOC President Thomas Bach by Hein Verbruggen, an honorary member of the International Olympic Committee.

Note that in this letter dated 13th October 2016 Verbruggen – as well as calling out the public smearing and bullying WADA and its leaders habitually engage in – has this to say about where WADA’s loyalties lie

This WADA leadership (appointed by the IOC, which is the cynical part of the story) usually teams up with a small group of (mainly) Anglo-Saxon NADO’s (USA, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, United Kingdom and Norway/Scandinavia on the sideline) and this has created a division that has allowed the same people to stay at the helm for a way too long period.

This “coalition” can also be seen from the composition of the WADA committees (including panels and expert groups) as published on WADA’s website.

Please note:

– there are 11 WADA committees and 9 (!) of them are chaired by people from Anglo-Saxon countries, obviously the most important committees;

– there are in total 112 members and 56 of them are from Anglo-Saxon countries and 10 are from Scandinavia (so 66 out of 112);

– from the 11 WADA committees, 7 have a majority of Anglo-Saxons and 2 more have a majority of Anglo-saxons and Scandinavians;

– members from Canada and the USA are abundantly present.

The International Olympic Committee however hardly comes out much better than WADA.

Though the intense skepticism about WADA’s claims of a “Russian state sponsored doping conspiracy” on the part of the IOC’s officials is now a matter of public knowledge (see for example this excellent article in Oriental Review describing the often heated correspondence between WADA and the IOC’s Christophe de Kepper) and though the International Olympic Committee’s own Schmid Commission essentially cleared Russia of WADA’s charges that a state sponsored doping conspiracy had taken place, the International Olympic Committee nonetheless suspended the Russian Olympic Committee, imposed a lifetime ban on Russia’s former Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko (against whom the Schmid Commission admits no evidence of wrongdoing has been found) and prevented scores of Russian athletes attending the PyeongChang Games, insisting that those who did attend should not do so under their own flag.

Moreover when the International Olympic Committee’s decision to impose lifetime bans on 28 Russian athletes was reversed by the Court of Arbitration for Sport – a court which the International Olympic Committee has itself created – the response of its President Thomas Bach was to abuse and threaten the court and refuse to carry out its decision.

It is difficult to avoid the conclusion that the International Olympic Committee – deeply compromised by the commercialisation of the ongoing Olympic Movement – capitulated before threats from US companies to withdraw sponsorship and advertising unless the Russians were banned.

That is of course a total betrayal of the Olympic Movement, which shows how far from the ideals of its founder Baron Pierre de Coubertin it has strayed.

As for the Russians, they need to ask themselves some hard questions about how such a deeply compromised and corrupt individual as Dr. Rodchenkov was allowed to gain control of RUSADA despite his activities having already previously been exposed as a result of earlier Russian investigations.

There has never been any proper explanation for this.

I will here state my view that if the focus of McLaren’s investigation had been on finding out the reasons for Dr. Rodchenkov’s bizarre appointment as head of RUSADA instead of fantasising about a gigantic government organised state sponsored doping conspiracy in Russia no evidence for which (apart from Dr. Rodchenkov’s claims) exists, some good would have been done, and some Russian officials would have come out highly embarrassed.

That of course never happened because McLaren chose instead to treat Dr. Rodchenkov as his star witness and as a hero and ‘whistleblower’.

Lastly, the Russians need to ask themselves whether their repeated attempts to host international sports competitions are worthwhile.

On both occasions that Russia has hosted the Olympics – the Summer Games in Moscow in 1980, the Winter Games in Sochi in 2014 – the result has been a scandal, with powerful forces in the West on both occasions pulling out all the stops to ruin Russia’s party by sabotaging the Games.

Beyond this Russia’s enemies have twice used President Putin’s love of sport to take action which is contrary to Russia’s interests.

The first time was in 2008 when Georgian President Saakashvili made use of Putin’s absence in Beijing to attend the Summer Games to launch an attack on South Ossetia, and the second time was in 2014, when during Putin’s absence from Moscow attending the Winter Games in Sochi the Maidan coup in Kiev took place.

There must now be real concern that the same sort of provocations will repeat themselves this year whilst the World Cup is underway in Russia.  Already there has been underway for years now a steady drumbeat of claims that Russia obtained the right to host the World Cup corruptly, even though no evidence of this has ever been found.

As for the Russian Olympic Doping Scandal, I am sorry to say that I think it is only in remission and that is far from over.  I think it is only a question of time before it comes back.

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