Should the Whole Russian Team be Banned From the 2016 Olympic Games?

Ooo, a controversial blog right here!  Before I begin, I am not a sports journalist or specialist in this field, and I am not offering an opinion on this political subject.  I am merely researching and gathering information on this topic because I love the Olympics and sport in general.  So, with that said, and with only 5 days until the start of the Olympics, the real nail-biting question is…Should the whole Russian team be banned from participating in the Rio 2016 Olympic Games?

But why, what’s happened? I hear you ask.  For those who don’t follow sport, it was apparently discovered by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) that Russia had operated a state-sponsored doping programme since 2011 across the majority of summer and winter Olympic sports.  So much so, officials are apparently unable to identify which athletes have and have not participated in the illegal activity.  This is because Russia’s sports ministry had apparently “directed, controlled and oversaw” manipulation of urine samples provided by their athletes.  For example, it has been said that athletes’ urine samples that came back positive, had gone missing.  Now, let’s take a step back.  These accusations do not mean that all Russian athletes took part, it does not mean that the Russian athletes even knew this was going on and it certainly does not mean that Russia is the only country in the world to have been linked with doping.

I have so many questions to ask about doping.  Is it true that people who dope are cheats?  Do they take these products to and try and win at all costs?  Is it too difficult to keep up with the endless list of things you can’t put into your body as a professional athlete? Does this mean that Russian athletes who have won medals since 2011 should be stripped of their titles?  How can they monitor doping better for the future? Will Russia ever be able to compete again without being branded as cheats by the public and other athletes?

For those unfamiliar with the term “doping”, it is described as the administration of drugs to a racehorse, greyhound, or athlete in order to inhibit or enhance sporting performance.  Doping therefore is illegal, this is because it is said to enhance performance, pose a threat to athlete health, or violate the spirit of sport.  Now, doping is not a new subject within sport and it is not exclusive to Russia and its athletes at present.  In fact, doping is thought to go all the way back to the ancient Olympic Games.  Today,  many athletes, from many different sports and from many different counties have been temporarily and permanently banned from participating in their sport because of doping.   For example, tennis star Maria Sharapova was recently banned for 2 years for failing a drugs test.

Let’s flip the coin, what about the innocent Russian athletes who are and always have been clean within their sport? Is it right that they are banned from the Olympics and other sporting competitions? Banned from taking part in what they’re paid to do? Is it against their Human Rights? Banned from the biggest sporting event in the world because of other peoples’ mistakes?

Many Russian athletes have already arrived at Rio with the hopes of competing, despite WADA’s suggestion to ban the whole country.  Apparently, the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC)  have said that it is down to each sport’s federation as to whether they will allow or not allow Russian athletes to compete, in light of not banning the entire country.  For example, it has been said that Russia’s full Olympic team would have been 387 athletes, but the track and field, football, basketball, rugby and hockey governing bodies have banned Russia from participating, which has significantly decreased the numbers.  However, some athletes such as Darya Klishina (Long Jump) have been allowed to compete as an ‘independent’ athlete, whereby she will not be representing Russia.

In light of what has happened, I will reiterate that doping is not a new concept, we’ve all heard of Lance Armstrong right? It’s thought he was doping over well over 20 years ago!  Therefore, we know it’s not uncommon in the sporting world; we also know that it’s not right. So, going forward, what could the IOC and other federations do to prevent this from happening again and again? Once an athlete has failed a drugs test, should they be banned for life? Would that scare others to not dope because of consequences to their career? Could all athletes be tested before, during and after the games as well as throughout the year to make sure it is a clean sport? Or should they lift the ban all together on doping and make it legal, because can they really control it?

Do you believe that the whole Russian team should be banned from this years Olympic Games?  Share your thoughts on the comments section below.

The BBC’s theory on how Russia apparently handled the doping.

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© 2016 Naomi Laws. All rights reserved.

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