NY Times Calls For Russia To Be Banned From Rio

Russia-Olympics-Drugs (1)


Editorial Coverage Sponsored By FINIS

Commentary by Casey Barrett

Not since East Germany in the 70s and 80s has there appeared to be a more concentrated state-run system of nationally mandated doping. Russia today has now confirmed itself as the poster child for cheating in international sport. In a stunning story published in The New York Times on Thursday May 12th, a “meticulously planned” program of state-sponsored doping was revealed to be behind the country’s success at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.

The Times called it “one of the most elaborate – and successful – doping ploys in history.” That’s saying something. Particularly when compared to the two-decade long deception that fueled the East Germany Olympic machine across a generation of Games.

In prose fit for a crime novel, here’s how America’s paper of record described one piece of the well orchestrated ploy:

In a dark-of-night operation, Russian antidoping experts and members of the intelligence service surreptitiously replaced urine samples tainted by performance-enhancing drugs with clean urine collected months earlier, somehow breaking into the supposedly tamper-proof bottles that are the standard at international competitions, Dr. Rodchenkov said. For hours each night, they worked in a shadow laboratory lit by a single lamp, passing bottles of urine through a hand-size hole in the wall, to be ready for testing the next day, he said.

Their exposé was joined by an equally damning piece on 60 Minutes last Sunday, called “Russia’s Dark Secret.” And today in the Times, the accumulated evidence has led for a call for the entire country to be banned from this summer’s Olympics in Rio.

Cheers to good investigative reporting making an impact. Though it must be said that this isn’t much of a “dark secret” at all. About two years ago I posted a less than subtle story entitled “The Russians Are Dirty.” It was in response to the rash of positive drug tests by Russian swimmers. (At the time, 16 positives over four years…) Many were writing about it then, and the bad press has continued unbated for years now when it comes to Russia’s less than clean results in Olympic sport.

Swimming is just one of them, but being one of the “big three” Summer Olympic sports, you have to believe that it’s been a major focus of their dark doping arts. Their many positive tests among swimmers is a clear indication that’s the case.

Yet it’s always been a truism of performance enhancement that only the dumb dopers get caught. Russia may be dirty, but it’s not dumb. Over the last several years, it’s clear that their operation has extended well beyond merely taking the newest hard-to-detect drugs. It’s also been overtly sinister – from breaking into tamper-proof bottles, sneaking around in the shadows, as new clean samples are provided for dishonest testing.

Here’s hoping the International Olympic Committee steps up and takes the only honorable action possible: Ban Russia from Rio.

All commentaries are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Swimming World Magazine nor its staff.

Notify of

Welcome to our community. We invite you to join our discussion. Our community guidelines are simple: be respectful and constructive, keep on topic, and support your fellow commenters. Commenting signifies that you agree to our Terms of Use

Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Kevin Muir
7 years ago

Ban China too while you’re at it

Johnny Karnofsky
7 years ago

I think any country with such a widspread epidemic of PED use among it’s elite athletes needs to be banned from international competition in any sport and any championship/world record performance by any athlete in any sport from such a country be reviewed.

Elan Moas
7 years ago

I think Rio should’ve banned from Rio

Mick Massey
7 years ago

Kettle calling the pot black!!! Please look through the very, very extensive list of American athletes banned for drug violations in the last 5 years

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x