Last night’s coverage of the opener of the 2018 Winter Olympics received one of the worst ratings ever, a result of organisers deciding to keep Russia from participating.
“I am no longer fond of Olympic games. There are too many sport disciplines, too much cheating, too much money and too many politics involved in the Olympics,” at least one Canadian viewer told FWM.
The Norwegian team was rumored to have brought some 6 000 doses of asthma medicine for its athletes. Even if the rumour is false, it makes a valid point, because such drugs are exempted by the anti-doping agency if some doctor simply certifies that an athlete “needs” them.
Such drugs mask performance enhancers, noted as merely a “side effect” in anti-doping tests. At least 15 US athletes in the Rio Olympics took the asthma “medicine”. Russian athletes though, who never used these tricks, were banned or restricted for alleged doping on rather murky grounds.
With geopolitical tensions rising, VIP seating plans, 1 200 pre-recorded morphing drones, the Comcast-owned network NBC tried hard to make the event seem fresh without Russia, but failed.
In the run-up to the Games, it was depressing to watch politics encroach on the Olympic Movement and take control of World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), the doping testing body, based on the allegations by Grigory Rodchenko, who is now “under American protection in California”.
His testimony influenced key members of the IOC who engineered the banning of the entire Russian athletic teams in Rio and North Korea, even though hundreds of those athletes had competed for years and provided clean drug tests on all occasions.
Rodchenkov is the former director of Russia’s national antidoping laboratory, the Anti-Doping Center, which was suspended by the WADA in November 2015 for allegedly facilitating Russia’s elaborate state-sponsored doping program.
When a number of Russian athletes successfully appealed their bans to the CAS appeal body and were reinstated, Thomas Bach, the IOC president, vociferously “regretted” the CAS decision and threatened the continued existence of the CAS. In the next days, the CAS declined the appeals of a further 47 clean Russian athletes without any coherent reasons for their judgment.
With anti-Russian Americans striving to disrupt Russian participation in major international sporting events, American-sponsored disruption of the Russian hosting of the football World Cup is expected to also surface.
The doping scandal that keeps many Russian athletes from competing in top events, including the ongoing Winter Olympics, was because the US apparently can no longer beat Russians, the country’s foreign minister said.
Sergey Lavrov said banning Russian athletes from the games was “part of this unfair competition, because the Americans apparently can no longer beat us in a fair fight. They believe that taking back and preserving uncontested leadership in global sports requires sidelining the competition.”
In an interview with Rossia-1 news channel on Sunday, Lavrov said in other areas the US use similar tactics, “of unilateral, coercive, illegitimate, unlawful actions to obtain the advantage”.
The “Russiagate” scandal, a false allegation that Russia somehow attacked American democracy during the 2016 presidential election is another example of a dirty American scheme, Lavrov said. There will never be any proof of such interference, because there was none, he added.
“They have been investigating this for a year and not a single fact has surfaced to corroborate these speculations,” he said. “If there were any facts, they would have been leaked by now. I know this is how the US system works. Everything gets leaked with so many people involved in all those hearings and investigations.”
The Russian minister said Moscow saw the current state of relations with the US as abnormal. He said Russia would not retaliate, in order to avoid fueling the planned hysteria and escalating tensions.
Lavrov said he was actually baffled by anti-Russian panic in the US. “I could not believe my eyes and ears, seeing and hearing many officials in Washington, in the administration and Congress, whom I knew personally — quite serious and smart, rational people. I was amazed to see them being stripped of every bit of sense by this mass psychosis,” he said.
Meanwhile Russian short-track speedskater Semion Elistratov is being “investigated” because he dedicated his bronze medal to Russian compatriots banned from the Games.
Elistratov clinched a bronze medal in the 1500m event at Gangneung Ice Arena on Saturday night. He criticized the decision to expel the Russian team and many of its athletes from Pyeongchang.
The few Russian athletes participating are not allowed to wear their country’s colours or flag.