Russian Participation in Rio Olympics Uncertain After Doping Report

By Matthew Schaller
Staff Writer

Former president of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) Dick Pound believes that Russia can still make it to the 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Rio following the release of his damning report, which suspended Russia’s track and field team for using performance enhancing drugs.  The news comes as Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko recently summoned the presidium of the All-Russia Athletic Federation to Moscow in order to discuss possible next steps.

Speaking to Rossiya 24 after the meeting, Mutko stated that the Russian Athletic Federation is taking the necessary actions needed in order to qualify for the Rio Olympics next August. “Some may suffer in this situation,” said Mutko, “but we will remove all those whose reputation is under suspicion from the athletics management system.”

He also added that the upcoming elections in January will bring new leadership to the athletic federation.

However, these possible actions were hindered by a recent WADA meeting in Colorado that unanimously declared to suspend the Russian Anti-Doping Agency following the report that was issued by Dick Pound and his independent commission.

The commission’s results state that the Moscow laboratory responsible for the maintenance of processed blood and urine samples has become decertified. The country will no longer have a running national anti-doping institution to test its own athletes. A statement issued by the World Anti-Doping Agency stated, “Firm action was requested following the report highlighting the deficiencies in Russian athletics’ anti-doping system.”

According to the Guardian, despite the organization giving a March 18 deadline for compliance, WADA does not have the legal means to take action against countries that it declares to be non-compliant. Enforcement is left to WADA stakeholders, such as the International Paralympic Committee and the International Olympic Committee.

Yet the report issued by Pound also has implications for the Winter Olympics that were held in Sochi in 2014. United States Biathlon Chief Executive Max Cobb stated that “the testing that took place in Sochi is at least suspect and perhaps completely worthless.”

The International Association of Athletics Federations is expected to demand an apology from Russia for numerous instances of state interference in the sport, even as the organization faces a possible suspension from the International Olympic Committee following the release of Dick Pound’s second report later this year. The first report redacted sections as a result of the continuing investigation.

The World Anti-Doping Agency will reveal its investigation of claims made by the Sunday Times pertaining to separate widespread doping of blood data. The organization will also enhance its whistleblowing process “to encourage, and offer greater protection to, anonymous sources that may be willing to come forward with valuable information.”

In response to this controversy, Interpol has announced a French-led global coalition to investigate athletic doping allegations.

Matthew Schaller

MATTHEW SCHALLER is a junior Diplomacy and International Relations major with a minor in Russian and Eastern European Studies. His academic interests include Russian politics, counterterrorism, and international security. After graduating he plans to travel the world and find a career in intelligence or humanitarian aid. Contact Matt at matthew.schaller@student.shu.edu.

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