Russia has been forbidden to participate in the 2018 Winter Games in South Korea. The government officials, and all representations of the nation, have been excluded from the events.The athletes however are allowed to participate, wearing neutral uniforms, detaching them from their nationalities. Furthermore, the country is expected to pay 15 million dollars as a fine and conform to anti-doping policies in the future.
The punishment was issued by the International Olympics Committee after a long investigation into Russia’s athletes. They discovered systematic doping of Russian athletes on an unprecedented level in Olympic history. Russia has longed used the Olympics as a mechanism to flex international strength.
In response to the punishment, some Russian officials have threatened to boycott if the IOC enforces its sentence. The IOC has been adamant in their history of cracking down upon doping scandals, as seen in the East Germany doping scandals in the 20th century. President of Russia, Putin, then accused US agencies of manipulating the doctor’s testimonies on the investigative results as a way to usurp Russian international power, claiming this to be a political move rather than to uphold the integrity of the Olympic games. Putin even claims this to be a personal attack upon him, by the United States, to undermine his ability to be re-elected in the upcoming election. The US anti-doping agency has been vocal in a strict and total ban of Russian presence in the upcoming game, calling anything less as a “get out of jail free card.”
Russia has long used international competitive sports events as a media to demonstrate national prestige and strength. The penalty and expulsion from the event serves only to humiliate Russian pride. The Russian government, including President Putin, is expected to offer resistance to the accusations and penalties.
Banning Russia does not fare well for the Winter Olympics themselves. The Winter Olympics has long struggled to acquire adequate viewership, unlike their summer counterpart. The exclusion of Russia, and consequently their large audience, would only exacerbate the problem. The lack of viewership would mean a gross deficit of profit to justify the continuity of this event. Sponsorships to the event could be cut as a result of Russia’s expulsion.
Daniel Choi(11), a varsity tennis player, believes that “sports is a measure of athleticism and ability. The nature of the competition is corrupted when you go to amoral and unconventional means of achieving success, especially defying codified rules and acquiring advantages others cannot.”