The Olympics will be a little different this year; it will be missing one of the most dominant countries in the Games – Russia. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has suspended the Russian Olympic Committee “with immediate effect,” banning the country from the upcoming Games over Russia’s system of state-supported cheating by athletes using performance-enhancing drugs, according to National Public Radio.
Very few Russian athletes can compete in the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, and the ‘clean’ athletes will have to pass very strict examinations to ensure the use of performance-enhancing drugs are absent, according to cnn.com.
“I think the Russians should be allowed to participate in the Olympics, but they should have to go through several drug tests leading up to and during the Games to make sure that they aren’t taking steroids,” Olympics fan and sophomore Grace Poorbaugh said.
In addition, athletes will have to compete under the title, “Olympic Athlete of Russia (OAR)”. This sets them apart from other athletes, because others will compete exclusively under their country’s name. According to Olympic.org, there have been many principles relating to the design of the OAR’s uniforms, accessories and equipment. For example, “Olympic Athlete from Russia” – the size of the words, "Olympic Athlete from" should be equivalent to the word "Russia" and above the word Russia.
The Russian Olympic Committee must also pay a total of $15 million for the IOC’s doping investigation and to contribute money to the Independent Testing Authority to build the capacity and the integrity of the global anti-doping system.
“The IOC took a strong and principled decision. There were no perfect options, but this decision will clearly make it less likely that this ever happens again,” U.S. Olympic Committee CEO Scott Blackmun said, according to cnn.com.
The president of Russia, Vladimir Putin claims it would be humiliating to the country if no athlete would be allowed to participate in the Games and has made it clear that there will be boycotts concerning the 2018 Olympics.
“The Russian government was found to have deliberately cheated for many years in almost every sport with government backed doping programs to enhance their athlete’s performances in past Olympic games. The Russians cheated several athletes and nations out of fair and equal Olympic games, and therefore a clear and stern message has to be sent to the Russians and the rest of the world that says, ‘if you cheat you don't compete,’” Economics teacher Andrew Fraley said.
Russia’s move to doping in the Olympics is likely traced to 2010, when the country’s athletes fell short of the expectations. Investigators say Russian officials wanted to ensure better results in the next Games, and it worked as Russia’s athletes more than doubled their medal count by winning 33 medals with 13 of them being gold.
“Take away their medals and ban them from the Olympic games for a decade, a stiff and fair punishment. Any punishment is designed to prevent negative behaviors from happening again in the future. If punished so severely, then other nations and athletes might be pushed away from the thought of ever cheating again,” Fraley said.
The IOC has been deeply analyzing the medal counts of Russia from the 2014 Games in Sochi and many of the winners that were found guilty of the anti-doping rules had their medals taken away.
“Using steroids to improve your body gives you an edge over other players that have worked hard to get to compete in the Olympics. They have essentially cheated. Like in school if you are caught cheating then most teachers will give you an automatic zero. Why shouldn’t it be like that for the athlete? They cheat they should get a zero and have their medal taken away,” Poorbaugh said.
Following the disqualifications of many Russian athletes, the American team now leads the way with 28 medals it won in 2014, with Norway being second. The IOC has been sanctioning athletes to be ineligible for future Olympics as it strips them of their victories in efforts to reshape the field for the 2018 Pyeongchang Games.