The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) filed a detailed report with an abundance of allegations claiming Russia’s athletes were given a three-drug cocktail of banned substances and liquor in order to increase their performance in Olympic sporting events. On Friday, June 17th Russia’s track and field team was banned from competing in the 2016 Summer Olympics, after a thorough investigation found clear evidence of state-sponsored doping. NPR’s Corey Flintoff recounted the report commissioned by the World Anti-Doping Agency, which stated that “top Russian Athletes had been systematically using drugs to win medals, including in London at the Olympics in 2012 and the Sochi Games in 2014.”
In order to ensure an even playing field for all athletes during the 2016 Summer Olympics and properly address the magnitude of corruption found deeply rooted in Russia’s athletic culture, harsh punishments were necessary to address the Olympic doping allegations. In November of 2015, the World Anti-Doping Agency stated they had significant evidence that Russian Athletes were using performance enhancing drugs and that Russian officials were aware of this.
The International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) addressed accusations, commissioning an inspection team to verify claims and provisionally suspended the Russian track and field team. Unfortunately, the competitive track and field sport has a long been plagued with doping allegations and the instance with Russia was just too large to be ignored.
In December of 2014, ARD, German Broadcasting Organization initiated conversations about widespread doping abuse in endurance sports when they aired “Doping Top-Secret: How Russia Makes Its Winners.” The investigative piece was the first of four in the documentary series, which illustrates a worldwide substance abuse issue influenced by sporting officials. Claims made in each of the episodes are extremely serious and when the docu-series aired claims had not been confirmed by an un-affiliated party.
The ARD, series “Doping Top Secret,” in combination with the WADA allegations attracted immense attention and prompted the IAAF to publicly recognize the need for further investigation. With one month until the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio, the IAAF council has announced Russia’s athletes will not be permitted to participate. The Task Force commissioned to investigate athlete’s use of performance enhancing drugs and the involvement of country officials, recommended the International Olympic Committee uphold the ban on Russian Athletes from participating in the 2016 Summer Olympics based on their findings which they presented to the committee.
After careful review of findings, The International Olympic Committee, the World Anti-Doping Agency, and the International Athletes Association Federation all agreed that Russia’s track and field team would indefinitely be banned from the Rio Olympics. In a sport such as track and field where a near 5 seconds can be the difference between a gold medal and a bronze, some athletes and even sporting officials are finding new ways to get ahead. The synthetic drugs used today by athletes are so difficult to detect that several different systems are needed to ensure athletes are clean of any performance enhancing substances.
Findings confirmed that not only were a majority of athletes in violation of the anti-doping rules but that the Russian sports system covered up positive tests on several occasions. Little has been done by officials in the Russian sports department to prove they are committed to enhancing measures for ensuring athletes are clean. Just yesterday 67, athletes from Russia appealed the IAAF and International Olympic Committee ban asking to compete in the 2016 Summer Olympics, even if it meant competing under a neutral flag. The governing bodies who were put in place to ensure an even playing field for all athletes, sent a strong message with their rulings to ban Russia. However, it was just and necessary to protect other athletes who may doubt the sanctity of the games. BBC news reported on the many other countries support of the decision stating “The USA track and field team said it supported Russia’s continued suspension to ensure clean and fair competition for all athletes. It is the only proper course of action given the compelling and powerful evidence presented to council. We do not believe that every Russian athlete cheated, and it is unfortunate and regrettable that some may pay a penalty for the serious transgressions of their federation.” To see the full 2014 Anti-Doping testing figures report for each country click here.
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