Late last week, Russia’s track and field team was officially barred from the Rio Olympics after the doping scandal.
The games start on August 5, but the Russian flag will not be worn by any of the track and field athletes. No other country in the history of the Olympics has been penalized so harshly.
The International Association of Athletics Federations announced on Friday its ruling to ban the Russian track and field team.
“Politics was not playing a part in that room today,” said Sebastian Coe, the head of the track and field organization. “It was unambiguous.”
At the last summer games, Russia won 18 medals– including eight golds. Some of the winning athletes were likely using performance-enhancing drugs.
Reports by the World Anti-Doping Agency were “wide-ranging and detailed: Athletes were given a three-drug cocktail of banned substances and liquor; authorities helped athletes evade drug tests by surreptitiously swapping out tainted urine; thousands of incriminating samples were destroyed; drug testers were threatened by members of Russia’s Federal Security Service,” writes the New York Times.
The use of illegal high performance drugs isn’t only being used by Russia’s track and field team.
“If you’re fighting doping, Russia should be withdrawn from the Olympics,” said Grigory Rodchenkov, Russia’s former anti-doping lab director. “Doping is everywhere. Many people in Russia don’t want to tell the truth. Lies and fear are absolute.”
This has led to speculation about the entire 386 athletes on the Russian team. So officials from 10 countries are requesting the whole Russian team be banned.
“At least 10 national anti-doping organizations — including those in the United States, Germany, Spain, Japan, Switzerland and Canada — and more than 20 athlete groups representing Olympians from around the world have banded together as they anticipate validation of Dr. Rodchenkov’s claims,” writes the New York Times.
Dmitri Svishchev, head of the State Duma’s committee on sports, culture and youth affairs of Russia, defended his country saying that “Russia has never denied that it has problems with doping, just as any other country.”
Putin also said that a few mistakes by athletes shouldn’t affect or be a representation of those from the entire team. The Russian Ministry of Sport released a statement with similar sentiments.
“We now appeal to the members of the International Olympic Committee to not only consider the impact that our athletes’ exclusion will have on their dreams and the people of Russia, but also that the Olympics themselves will be diminished by their absence,” said the ministry the statement.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) stated that it will “explore the legal options” before placing the collective ban on all Russian competitors.
For the last seven months, allegations have been made about the doping ring of the Russian team. The athletes on the track and field team have been suspended from the international competition since last fall.
“Global track officials said Friday that individuals who could “clearly and convincingly show they are not tainted by the Russian system” — because they have been outside the country and subject to rigorous testing — could individually petition to compete for a neutral team,” writes the New York Times.
The Russian 800m runner Yuliya Stepanova, one of the whistleblowers of the doping scandal, is likely to still compete as an independent neutral athlete.