Russia Could Be Completely Banned From The Summer Olympics. Here’s Which Sports Were Implicated.
The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA)’s executive board called on the International Olympic Committee to ban Russia from participating amidst doping allegations in a 97-page report released by WADA on Monday. The report is the result of a two month investigation led by an independent commission and confirmed that a state-sponsored program to hide and replace athletes’ positive drug tests led to at least 312 of 577 positive sample screenings being held back. The investigation looked at testing samples from 2011 through at least last year’s world swimming championships. But which Olympic sports could the potential Russia anti-doping ban affect most?
As of Monday, the main consensus among officials is that Russia should be banned altogether from participating in the Rio Olympics. ESPN reports IOC president Thomas Bach said the committee will take the toughest sanctions available against those involved. However, the IOC executive board will meet Tuesday to officially make “decisions on possible sanctions for the Rio Games.”
It’s worth noting which sports appeared to involve the most doping according to the report. According to the WADA report, more than 240 of the 312 positive samples withheld came from track and field and wrestling. As early as last month, the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) called on the IOC to specifically ban Russia’s track and field team on charges of doping cover-ups at the 2012 London Olympics and other international competitions. Specific drugs used by Russian athletes aren’t yet known, but common performance enhancement drugs include anabolic steroids, growth hormones, and stimulants for adrenaline boosts.
Eleven positive samples hidden by Russia’s state-sponsored anti-doping program were of soccer players. The other sports involved included swimming, rowing, table tennis, and snowboarding, although snowboarding is a winter sport and wouldn’t be affected in Rio.
As per the report, Russia’s deputy minister of sports, who was part of Russia’s Olympic Committee, instructed workers at an anti-doping laboratory in Moscow which positive samples to send and which samples to hold back. Russia’s national security service, the FSB, was aware of and supported this program, according to the report.
The report additionally confirmed the accuracy of New York Times’ May report on allegations by Grigory Rodchenkov, Moscow’s former anti-doping lab director, of sample switching ahead of the Sochi Winter Olympics in 2014.
In light of the report, U.S. and Canadian anti-doping leaders have written a letter to the IOC calling for Russia’s removal from the Olympics in Rio with the exception of “Russia-born athletes who can prove they were subject to strong anti-doping systems in other countries,” according to the ESPN.
Meanwhile, Pat Hickey, president of the European Olympic Committee, questioned the “integrity” of the letter and the “credibility” of the report. “My concern is that there seems to have been an attempt to agree on an outcome before any evidence has been presented,” Hickey said in a statement.
Protecting the integrity of the Olympics is important, but on a humanitarian level, it’s certainly worth noting the disastrous effects a sweeping ban would have on Russian athletes, many of whom are narrowly dodging poverty through participation in the games. In 2015, 13.4 percent of Russia’s population was living in poverty, and for many athletes, endorsements from athletic companies like Nike not only allow them to train and participate in competitions, but offer a means to survive and lead dignified lives. If the Russian team is banned from the Olympics, many athletes could lose endorsements they depend on for income.
U.S. Olympic Committee CEO Scott Blackmun issued a statement citing the report as evidence of an overarching issue with the system, writing that the report “confirms what we have stated previously: the current anti-doping system is broken and urgently requires the attention of everyone interested in protecting clean athletes.”