• Sorina Larsen

No Russian for gold: The real consequences of steroids

Throughout all the past Olympics, Russia has won a total of 546 medals, 195 of them being gold, according to olympic.org. With the upcoming Olympics in Tokyo, Japan, on July 24, athletes from all over have been vigorously training to earn more. However, Russia won’t even win a bronze.

On Dec. 9, the World Anti-doping Agency known as WADA announced that Russia will be banned from any global sporting event for a four-year period including the 2020 summer Olympics and the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

“It seems the International Olympic Committee took this serious step because of repeated doping allegations and violations among Russian athletes,” Professor of Slavic and East European studies at OSU Angela Brintlinger said.

According to WADA, Russia was caught using performance enhancement drugs several times before, and the Russian athletes were given many opportunities to get their act together. Russia refused and denied these allegations causing WADA to take a much more serious step and completely ban them altogether.

Not every athlete gets punished though. “It is my understanding that non-doping athletes can compete independently or potentially for another country while their home country is banned,” Brintlinger said.

According to WADA, as long as athletes can prove that they did not use drugs to enhance their performance or there were no benefits from it, they can still compete. However, every medal and trophy that is earned will not go towards Russia; this could change every outcome of the Olympics.

No matter the outcome, “The Olympics, like professional sports, carry with them prestige and financial opportunity for athletes. The IOC should help keep the playing field even,” Brintlinger said.

This ban could not only affect who wins, but it can place an impact on diplomatic relations. The Olympics have always been a place where countries can come together and unite, but this could lead back to how it did in the past.

“During the Cold War, the Olympics were a much-contested venue, with the socialist-camp countries striving to beat the capitalists, and the Soviet Union and the United States were each very invested in racking up gold medals,” Brintlinger said.

Russia isn’t the only place that has been using drugs to improve their skills though; many other places have created unfair sporting environments by choosing to dope their athletes. This has become an international problem that is not only unfair, but also harmful.

“Performance-enhancing drugs have been a problem all over the world in professional and amateur sports. These kinds of drugs are only available to athletes (and countries) with the means to fund them and the chutzpah to violate regulations. Scientists continue to study what the long-term effects of such drugs will be on the athletes' bodies and overall health,” Brintlinger said.

Doping may improve the performance of individuals, but it’s extremely dangerous. According to WADA, the use of medications could cause many negative side effects that could potentially destroy an athlete's career. A doping drug like steroids can cause something as miniscule as acne, to something as threatening as liver and heart disease.

“If you’re using drugs to enhance performance and then have to come off them after getting caught, there is a strong possibility that you won’t play to the best of your ability without the drugs. This leaves you worse off than you were before,” sophomore soccer player Meghan Moser said.

With Russia not being able to compete in future global sporting events, there may be a lot of different winners and losers. Doping can have a serious impact on not only the game, but the athlete too.

For my part, I can comment that it is my understanding that non-doping athletes can compete independently or potentially for another country while their home country is banned. It seems the IOC took this serious step because of repeated doping allegations and violations among Russian athletes.

During the Cold War, the Olympics was a much-contested venue, with the socialist-camp countries striving to beat the capitalists, and the Soviet Union and United States were each very invested in racking up gold medals.

But performance-enhancing drugs have been a problem all over the world in professional and amateur sports. These kinds of drugs are only available to athletes (and countries) with the means to fund them and the chutzpah to violate regulations. Scientists continue to study what the long-term effects of such drugs will be on the athletes' bodies and overall health.

The Olympics, like professional sports, carry with them prestige and financial opportunity for athletes, and the IOC should help keep the playing field even.

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