The IOC's decision to allow Russia to participate in the Rio Olympics has met with widespread disappointment from athletes who were hoping for a strong reaction from the body. Marathon legend Paula Radcliffe called it “a sad day for clean sport” while others blamed it for bending to Putin's will.
It was anticipated, yet it proved to be a massive disappointment when the International Olympic Committee (IOC) refused to ban Russia from the Rio Olympics after the doping scandal. Despite incontrovertible proof that state-sponsored doping had been carried at industrial levels at the Sochi Winter Olympics, Russia has escaped with a minor slap on the wrists. Only the team of track & field athletes have been banned, while the rest are free to win honors for the Fatherland while steeped in doping cocktails.
Four-time Olympian Paula Radcliffe blasted the IOC for not doing enough calling the IOC's concern not being of protecting the clean athletes.
Six-time cycling gold medallist Chris Hoy also accused the body of “passing the buck” after they left the decision to ban athletes to individual sporting federations. While, at least at first glance, the move appears to be consultative, it is clearly impossible for individual sports bodies to organize an anti-doping campaign ten days before the Games are about to begin. It is a case of the IOC washing its hands off the affair.
What sort of message does this send out? Surely IOC's job is to make crucial decisions rather than passing the buck https://t.co/hJMEooFTRB— Chris Hoy (@chrishoy) July 24, 2016
Russia appeared to have been confident of the decision going in its favor. “The IOC decision was to be expected. You can’t behave improperly toward a power like Russia,” said Gennady Alyoshin, a Russian Olympic Committee official, in comments to the Tass news agency.
In fact, to add insult to injury, the IOC also refused to allow Yuliya Stepanova, the whistleblower in the scandal, to participate at the Games as a neutral competitor. The athlete who stood against the drug mafia is now a renegade in exile from Russia even as her fellow athletes who bowed down to the establishment's wishes will freely compete for the greatest glory in sport.
Olympic long jumper Greg Rutherford from Britain also told the Guardian that he saw it coming.
"I had a terrible feeling that arms would be twisted," he said.
"We know the pros and the cons of a blanket ban, we know the risks of 'collective justice', but we also know the risk of not punishing a culture of doping that comes from the very top. I would say that the latter is a much greater threat to sport," he added.
It is indeed a sad day in sport when it is proved beyond doubt that those who hold power make the rules, or bend the rules at will in this case, even in the egalitarian and meritocratic world of sport. Athletes from all over the world will fight steroid-steeped Russians in ten days wondering why their rightful Olympic chances were stamped on by the authorities whose job it was to protect and nourish them.