Olympic athletes who stay clean lose

IOC too timid against Russia despite 'criminality'

As they always do, the Summer Olympics will offer the world tough sporting competition and the inspirational stories unique to this global gathering.

Unfortunately, the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro also will be notable for being far less than they could have been. Given a chance to make a bold, positive statement on behalf of athletes doing things the right way, the International Olympic Committee instead chose less than a half-measure.

The IOC executive committee proved too timid to enact the comprehensive ban of Russian athletes sought by the World Anti-Doping Agency and other major groups. The IOC asked the world to settle for requiring athletes competing under the Russian flag to gain clearance from their international sporting federations, with the Aug. 5 opening ceremony less than two weeks out.

So the IOC expects governing bodies to take on the complicated task of scrutinizing hundreds of athletes’ drug testing. Many are far from equipped to handle such a process, and some have strong ties to influential Russian sports federations.

For instance, eight Russian tennis players were cleared Sunday, the day of the IOC announcement, even though the IOC had declared that a history of clean drug tests did not assure innocence. If only your local doctor could get your blood work back so quickly.

That Russia greeted the IOC decision as a victory is reason enough to be suspect. President Vladimir Putin has suggested doping allegations against his country were politically motivated, intended to undermine Russia’s world standing. Unlike, of course, invading Crimea or taking military action in Ukraine.

 

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