Two Russian skaters apparently barred from 2018 Olympics, with no reason yet announced

Two Russian skaters apparently barred from 2018 Olympics, with no reason yet announced

Russian pairs skater Ksenia Stolbova and ice dancer Ivan Bukin have apparently been barred from competing in the 2018 Olympic Winter Olympics by the International Olympic Committee.

"Apparently" must remain the operative word because the IOC will not release until Saturday a list of which Russian athletes have been cleared to compete next month in PyeongChang, South Korea.

The surprising news about Stolbova, a gold and silver medalist at the 2014 Winter Olympics, and Bukin came via a Tuesday statement from the Russian Figure Skating Federation, which in turn was citing information from the Russian Olympic Committee.

The figure skating federation's statement blasted the IOC.

Read More

IOC dips an OAR in the water for symbolic 2018 Olympic punishment of Russian doping

IOC dips an OAR in the water for symbolic 2018 Olympic punishment of Russian doping

Let’s get this straight at the outset.

The International Olympic Committee’s unprecedented Tuesday decision on Russian participation at the 2018 Winter Olympics is, as yet, no big deal in any way eventual followers of the upcoming Games will find significant.

The IOC did not ban Russian athletes for the country’s involvement in systemic doping.  It banned a symbol, depriving Russia of the chance to show its flag or have its medalists honored with their national anthem or wear the country’s name on their uniforms.  Russian athletes undoubtedly will win medals of all colors, and, despite all the feel-good mantras about participating in the Olympics, results are what count.

Yes, it’s the first time such an action has been taken against an entire country because of doping.

But the IOC already has made its most important decisions regarding Russian Winter Olympic athletes by banning and taking medals from many involved in manipulation of tests at the Sochi Olympics.  If all these athletes lose their medals after appeals are exhausted, it will knock down Russia’s official medal count for the 2014 Olympics from 33 to 22.

Read More

Rot at the core threatens future of Olympics

Rot at the core threatens future of Olympics

Sixteen years ago, when the Olympics were beset by leadership corruption, ethical laxity and doping, my perspicacious colleague Jere Longman of the New York Times suggested the possibility of the Games’ crumbling under the weight of rotten moral underpinnings.

“Future drug and corruption scandals seem inevitable. Preparations for the 2004 Summer Games in Athens remain precarious. The Olympic Games are as decayed as a bad tooth, perhaps facing permanent extraction sometime in the future,” Longman wrote in a May 17, 2000 Times story headlined, “Lack of I.O.C. Ethics Is Business as Usual.”

The Olympics may still be standing, but the rot has gotten so much worse in the past two years that it no longer seems a stretch to envision their demise.

Such a vision may be peculiar to the United States, where the much-trumpeted notions of an Olympic movement with Olympic ideals have no traction, where the coverage of Olympic-related events (and the Olympics themselves) in major media is continually shrinking, where the presence of more than one major pro sport and of all-but-pro college sports adds competition for attention that the Olympics face nowhere else in the world.

How can one have ideals when the leaders of the International Olympic Committee, notably its president, Thomas Bach, have mastered the art of moral equivocation and of what I call Candide-ism: saying all is for the best in this best of all possible worlds?

I am moved to this doom saying by events of the last few weeks involving Olympic costs and doping, the latter now known to be so pervasive as to have invalidated dozens of results from the 2008 and 2012 Summer Games.

Read More

Athletes should just say no to flawed anti-doping system

Athletes should just say no to flawed anti-doping system

Some thoughts while waiting for the lowlife Russian hackers whom Russian officials say have no ties to the government (hoo-hah!) to follow through on their announced intention to dump the next bunch of Olympians’ private medical records in an effort to convince people that athletes are doping even when they have violated no anti-doping rules...

...The overriding point in all this: as U.S. Olympic Committee CEO Scott Blackmun has said repeatedly in recent months, the global anti-doping system is broken.

It includes unconscionable conflicts of interest, which included IOC vice-president Craig Reedie (whose IOC term ended in August) serving as WADA president.  And now the IOC dismay that the WADA-initiated McLaren report called for a ban on all Russian athletes in Rio.  Are they in this fight together or each defending a bailiwick?

The TUE regulations are just one of the many complicated, probably unworkable pieces in a well-intentioned but impossibly compromised and Sisyphean effort at doping control.

It is sad that this has led a group of ethically and morally bankrupt Russian hackers to pervert reasonable questions about flaws in the system by violating the privacy of individuals who have violated no rules.

Read More

In Russian doping mess, the next step could be a helluva doozy

In Russian doping mess, the next step could be a helluva doozy

Now what?

Does the International Olympic Committee bar all Russian athletes in every sport from competing at the 2016 Olympics?

And then what happens if the Court of Arbitration for Sport rules in favor of the 68 Russian track and field athletes who have petitioned to overturn their international federation’s decision barring them from the upcoming Summer Games?

And even if the IOC takes the strongest possible action and the CAS decision essentially supports it, will that do more than apply a cold compress to the unremitting migraine of doping in sport?

Those are the key questions following Monday’s release of the report of a World Anti-Doping Agency investigation into allegations that Russia had a state-sponsored plan to protect doped Russian athletes at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.

Read More