Let the games begin! Between the 9th and 25th of February 2018, the South Korean city of Pyeongchang (only 90 km from the border with North Korea) will host the Winter Olympics. As if things weren’t exciting enough in the run-up to the games, Russian athletes have been adding their own dash of drama to the mix. Unfortunately, however, all the extra attention isn’t exactly for the right reasons (and it doesn’t cast the world’s biggest winter sporting event in the best light).

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has seen its ban on most Russian athletes participating in the games overturned by the Court of Arbitration for Sport. One IOC member called it: “a desperate and dark day for sport, with cheats and thieves allowed to triumph”.

The ban was originally handed down to Team Russia after evidence of a massive, state-sponsored doping programme came to light, including collusion by the countries’ intelligence services to thwart investigators. In February 2016, two former heads of the Russian anti-doping lab, Vyacheslav Sinev and Nikita Kamaev, died within 10 days of one another. Coming hot on the heels of the Fifa corruption scandal, it’s been a rough couple of years for international sport.

What do our readers think of all this? One reader, Matej, goes so far as to call the Olympics a “sham”. Maybe this kind of cynicism is to be expected when there are doping allegations casting such a shadow over the games? What’s the right way to restore trust in international sports? Should Russian athletes be completely banned from taking part?

To get a reaction, we spoke to Bogdan Wenta, a Member of the European Parliament. Before his career in politics, he was a professional athlete; a national handball player and coach in both Poland and Germany. So, what would he say to Matej’s loss of faith in the Olympics?

That’s not an easy question to answer… Whenever there are national interests involved, sometimes countries use sport to strengthen their image internationally, and to make their people appear stronger. But, if we reduce sport to this then we all lose, as in the case of the Russian doping allegations…

My background is in sport, and sport has given me a lot, and I will always fight to defend sport… but it should be up to the International Olympic Committee to decide, and to act in a way that restores credibility in the Olympics. This is not a trivial question, because people need heroes. The younger generation need examples to follow, and sport can provide this. So, it’s important that the public talk about this, and I think it’s our job to keep up the pressure and help restore the credibility of sport internationally.

Should Russian athletes be banned from the Winter Olympics? Doping allegations and political tensions look set to define the coverage of the games. What does this mean for the famous Olympian values and ideals? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below, and we’ll take them to policymakers and experts for their reactions!

Image Credits: CC / Russian Kremlin


41 comments Post a commentcomment

What do YOU think?

  1. Tarquin Farquhar

    With regard to sports – Russia [and before that the USSR] was and is systemically, endemically, pandemically, epidemically, holistically, exhaustively and comprehensively corrupt.

    Such institutional corruption should prevent Russia from competing in all Olympics UNTIL it issues an apology in all national newspapers and all national TV stations across the world PLUS pay millions of pounds/euros/dollars to all those deprived of Olympic medal glory by the cheating sports masters in Russia!

    Only then should Russia be allowed to compete.

    • Ackreti

      True. Russians cheated and they must be punished. The best defense Russia came up with is that “others cheat too”. Okay, even if it was true, let the Russia to proves others cheat so they can be punished as well.

      I am very glad justice worked right for once too.

    • Maia Alexandrova

      This is only anti-Russian propaganda, not the truth. Kenya is not less corrupt than Russia, but is still allowed to take part in Olympics, even with the presence of mass doping supported by the government. You need to open your eyes and look for other sources of information than just the propaganda media you are hooked on. It is all a political game, not sports any more.

      Besides, taking banned drugs by falsely claiming to have asthma or ADHD has corrupted the Olympic games to the core. This is what American, British and other Western European unclean athletes do on a massive scale, but are still unpunished for it, because they are on the “right” side of politics…

    • Maia Alexandrova

      Ackreti, even those Russians who had not cheated were banned, too. This is outside the normal rules that apply to everyone else. It is discrimination based on nationality. An athlete should not be banned, if they have never taken drugs, for example. Suspicion of wrongdoing is not enough – they have to be tested and proven guilty, then punished. Banning clean Russian athletes was not fair.

  2. Anonymous

    We should ban all countries that ever had doping scandal…
    Then only be fair play between zero players…

  3. EU Reform- Proactive

    Sorry “Bogdan Wenta”- this is a question with an EASY answer- and you still call it doping “allegations”??? Yes, let the IOC decide- and let that be final!

    If one cannot eliminate corruption in any “professional sport”= business, than the transgressing country has to be eliminated- until sanity & honesty returns- tough luck- never mind the financial losses!

    Honest & knowing competitors and staff could have blown the whistle on the political sponsored shenanigans. They chose not to!

    Greed, dishonesty and political grandeur are blurring the minds of those who should do the “straight thinking” and planning.

    Cheats and thieves must NEVER be allowed to triumph, but prosecuted ………and this applies not only to “professional” competitors, trainers and sports bodies, but also to all political representatives and all those who manage any form of business.

    Let the best athlete during these games be a winner- within the creation of the fairest and most equal “professional” guidance & circumstances.

  4. Anonymous

    Any athlete in any sport who deliberately takes drugs to gain advantage should be banned for life.
    Any country association that aids and abets this. ..or turns a blind eye should be banned from that sport for at least 2 cycles (Olympics. .world cups etc. ).

    • Anonymous

      All athletes take gear. Testosterone suspension, EPO and HGH. You have a super strong combination that with a smart protocol will easily evade all the tests during competition, the only time that you might ever get caught is during the off season, but even then you have 2 chances to evade the drug test every 18 months, which is more than enough.

    • Gatis

      USA hasn’t had a medalist that hasn’t been caught being on drugs in years. Let that sink in.

    • Paul

      Gatis… not convinced by your comment. .but is clear drug taking is rife there (as well as others)…but there’s a distinction between that..and an association actively aiding cheats.

  5. Anonymous

    How can it be when cheats from around the world are still allowed to compete ?

    • Goran

      Yep, like I taught… You are just Trolling here… Go and post something now from RT as proof :) ha ha ha…..

    • Goran

      George you probably believe that Earth is flat

    • Anonymous

      George, do you have any other facts and proof that the world is laying?

  6. John

    It’s a farce. Russia is obviously being punished for reasons that have more to do with geopolitics than sport.

    • Matthias

      It is not a farce. It is one thing to have your doc provide you with performance enhancing drugs for a competition. It is a totally different level if you have officials (!) from the intelligence agencies and the anti-doping office involved in a systematic abuse of their athletes’ integrity and have the rooms in the testing areas built in accordance to these informal actions. Imho the russian team is being treated too nicely for a scandal that big.

  7. Anonymous

    Drug testing doesn’t work. It is a dog and ponny show. There is no top level athlete in the world today who doesn’t know what testosterone suspension is.

  8. catherine benning

    Is the Russian doping ban fair?

    It has nothing to do with fairness, it is a political move to pressure Russia into behaving in a way that signifies obedience to Globalism and those in that undemocratic club who insist the line is toed.

    The doping by Russians is no more prevalent than it is with other countries. All you have to do is look at the size and shape of the athletes to know they are ‘using.’ This is nothing new.

  9. Mort.

    The future is transhumanist. Forget the puritan ideals of no drugs, or make all the athletes compete naked like they did originally in ancient Greece. Compression clothes for better endurance and faster recovery should also be banned, if drugs are banned. It’s a puritan sham to think that athletes must compete unaided, these days.
    Why not start some kind of open olympics, where performance enhancements can be laid out for all to see and learn from? Let the sports fanatics go all out to see how big, high, far, fast and long they can really get using all the aids of modern technology and education. Go hard, or go home.

  10. Marian-lucian

    CIO este remorca SUA. americani se dopeaza si culmea nu ii descopera nimeni.sunt cei mai mari consumatori stupefiante. olimpiada a devenit jucaria SUA.

    • Matt

      The Americans are the biggest drug users? Excuse me? Show us the evidence.

  11. Angela

    No drugs at all should be allowed – not even asprin. Currently only listed drugs are banned. Athletes who take latest drugs not yet listed are less likely to be caught.

  12. Zbigniew

    We should n’t punish countries and flags, but eliminate people and organisations from the public life which are responsible for such situations. If in result Russian representatives could not be sitting /holding chairs, organise events in various related councils, then within a very short period of time they would verify their own staffs.

  13. Attila Tóth

    “Drugs” is a very wide-debated term. It refers to chemicals and biological agents that enchance one’s performance. This includes -as previously stated- certain things like testosterone, which are fairly common. So athletes already use drugs.
    The problem isn’t in the “drugs” part, it’s in the “unpublished” part. This means someone uses unfair advantages usable only by their, or a few other countries. This also makes athletes weaker -usually- in the long term, so it’s even worse for them. Fleeting glory, if you must.
    But Mort.’s comment is also true -special vests also help A LOT for athletes. Better trainers also do. So why drugs only? A question for another time, perhaps.
    Regardless, the answer -in my opinion- isn’t in the ban of drugs; it’s in the unionisation of the methods, the drugs, the clothes, etc. If people use drugs all the time -let them, until they burn out. But let everyone do it then. It’s the same as with the torrents -if everyone uses them, why ban it? It will come back anyway.
    Still, all this Russian-Athlete-Ban-Theme feels like politics to me. Someone doesn’t want Russia to participate. Bogdan Wenta hinted as much as well. The problem isn’t drugs… the problem is, that the Olimpycs sound like a parade nowadays for countries to show off.

  14. Mari

    Watch this – then decide! Russia has been doping its athletes since 1980 Olympic Games. Never stopped – proof from its top “anti-doping” man, now in witness protection program in the US. Others in high positions involved in the scandal are … dead! What other proof you need? That they take over the games and shoot referees for gold medals?
    Available on Netflix. Highly recommended to all Russian trolls and the naive Europeans supporting Putin: http://m.imdb.com/title/tt6333060/

    • Ivan

      You comment may have carried more weight if you hadn’t insulted the reader by calling them ‘Russian troll’s simply because they disagree with you.
      .

      It just make you look like a supporter of fake news.

    • Mari

      I actually meant all Russian trolls – not readers here in this post. They know who they are. And as someone who grew up in USSR and follows closely Russian affairs, I know what I am talking about. You can watch the documentary and decide, if you still believe in facts, not fiction as facts, or not watch.

    • Matt

      @Mari Don’t you mean “fake news”? 😬

  15. Stefanos

    Doping bans mean the team with the most advanced doping techniques wins all. Food is chemistry, drinks are chemistry, psychology is chemistry, it doesn’t matter … This has been the shared experience until now. If athletes want to juice, just let them, bring the whole circus out of the shadows and make the whole thing more transparent…

  16. EU Reform- Proactive

    What is fair on the fairest continent of all?

    Generally, the root causes of allowing “greed and cheats” to mushroom is our “global free market economic system” (however still the better of all other failed evils).

    Olympic Game scandals were not only isolated to Russia or prevalent in the former USSR controlled Eastern Europe (incl. the former DDR)- but involved others as well.

    Also, the West’s well known (old & cold war) political agenda and competition with Russia is kept alive by the hidden many. God only knows when the Olympic message of “peace & unity” will reach the EU & the US political masterminds.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Olympic_Games_scandals_and_controversies

    Everything is a bit more complex than simply singling out Russia (as the DE attempts to do), because governments still interfere and retain huge interests, control and involvement in our free market system (Lobbyists & Filibusters)

    One can safely say, that the IOC is/was a willing & participating “victim” to have “privatized” itself after “Mr. Amateur” IOC president Avery Brundage (1952-1972) left, the amateur status dropped and the new demon “money” invited by Lord Killanin (1972-1980) and Samaranch (1980–2001).

    Today it has become an interesting, exiting but through and through commercial spectacle and money spinner- loved by everyone- but infected by the “MAD MAX” syndrome.

    Soon to come: the freest “Mad Max Olympics of no rules”

    https://christopherjohnlindsay.wordpress.com/2015/10/25/mad-max/

  17. Karolina

    It is fair and hypocritical at the same time.

  18. Maia Alexandrova

    Of course, it is not fair. You cannot have one set of rules for athletes of one country and another set for those from all other countries. One process should be followed for all, then it will be fair. Banning clean athletes from competing is no better than allowing those who have taken doping to take part in the games. It is wrong. Obviously, in the case of Russia it is 100% political reasons, the doping is just a façade. It would have been fair, if each accused athlete was investigated and proof presented that they personally had taken doping. This is the normal process followed for all athletes from any country. What they did with Russia had only one aim – to humiliate the country because it refuses to obey political orders of economically stronger countries. It has nothing to do with sport. The Olympic games have been corrupted by political games. This has taken away from their true purpose to unite through sports.

    By the way, how are North Korean athletes allowed to compete when no one has tested them, or monitored their testing in North Korea? Another set of double standards here, even though it is for a benevolent purpose – to improve relations between North and South Korea.

    In addition, doping taken under the guise of medical necessity should also be completely abolished. This is being massively exploited by American and Western European athletes in order to gain unfair advantage in international competitions. The most popular banned drugs used in this way are for asthma and ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder – a condition typical for children, not adults). If anyone is so sick that they have to take doping, then they should not be allowed to compete. Otherwise, this makes any international sports competition completely corrupt and unclean – without any Russian involvement.

  19. Jason

    No but in this case Western war and debt mongers were so spoilt and so butt hurt that they resorted to using their puppet WADA and IOC in such a low shot way even putting a blanket ban on all paraplegics. Even when it was overturned on appeal a week before these farcical olympics they would not accept the verdict. Petty hypocrites, cheats and cry-baby spiteful thugs.

  20. randomguy2017

    Dont know if they cheated. Maybe some of them did. I dont like cheaters.
    Another 20 nations also cheat yet I dont see them banned.

    The point is that there is a war against the Russians through economy and politics. Trying to slander them unfairly.
    These international organizations are heavily pro US. Money can easily buy things. So can threats. And the US elite are modern day Nazis/Soviets. Dont trust them either.

  21. Lucy

    No. Doping is a serious issue in international sports. The sporters caught are just scapegoats. Many famous such as Armstrong also take drugs . Why aren’t they banned ?

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