Olympic Season

“You know Russian women!” 

That’s a joke my siblings and I started throwing around after seeing Russian athletes compete in the 1976 Olympics and noting how much more brawny the female Russian athletes seemed to be. Then the 1980 Olympics came around and sorta confirmed those once silly thoughts. Their depiction in movies did not help either.

Olympic season is once again upon us and Russia faces its greatest athletic crisis. It has just been exposed as a cheat. Not just a couple of its athletes but the entire nation. It turns out that the Russian Government has been running a doping program for years. As a result, its entire track and field team has been banned from participating in the Olympics. The International Olympic Committee, however, stopped short of banning the entire Russian Team. They left it to the various sports federations to determine whether or not to allow Russian athletes to compete in particular events. Some feel the IOC failed to do its mandate while the IOC itself feels it has done its part. Certainly, Russian athletes who insist they are innocent want to compete, and, generally, that’s what the IOC is thinking. The innocent should be able to compete.

On the other hand, when a national government knowingly undertakes a doping program in order to ensure victory, or at least increase the chances of its athletes to do so, then there must be some consequence…that should hurt really really bad. Doping cheats all the other athletes from all over the world of the Olympic experience. It’s just wrong and those who do so should be punished. Granted that some Russian athletes may not be involved but we are not punishing individual athletes here — that happens when they are found positive for drugs after testing — but the country itself. Punishing the country consequently means that none of its athletes should be allowed to participate in sporting events. That’s the punishment for the country.

The IOC says such a “nuclear” solution will only cause death and destruction, presumably to the innocent Russian athletes deemed as collateral damage, which is not, according to them, what the Olympics stand for. Really? I’m sure when they wanted to go higher, stronger and faster, they weren’t thinking that it should be drug induced. Again, the focus I think is on who is being punished here and it shouldn’t be the athletes but the country.

What my siblings and I thought of was just a joke but what the IOC decided to do seems to me the bigger joke. If the IOC wanted to make a statement, then it failed, unless it really wanted to make us laugh instead, in which case, I guess they succeeded.

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