Only a few months after an Olympics marred by Brazil’s political instability and Ryan Lochte’s drunken quest to make an entire nation look bad, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has another controversy on its hands. The committee has recently determined that a total of 98 athletes have tested positive in the reanalysis process from the 2008 and 2012 Olympics.
The governing body may have another full-fledged doping crisis. The IOC stripped 10 athletes of their medals from the 2008 Beijing Olympics following the retesting of samples from the games. Nine of the offenders originate from Russia or former Soviet Union countries, a troubling fact that increases suspicion about the prevalence of Russia’s state-sponsored doping program.
While none of the disgraced athletes were 2008 gold medalists, Russian high jumper Elena Slesarenko stands out from the rest. The 34-year-old won gold in Athens in 2004, but won’t have that medal stripped from her because the statue of limitations stipulates that rule violation proceedings must take place within 10 years of all doping allegations.
Slesarenko tested positive for turinabol, the same oral steroid that was found in the system of Toronto Blue Jays player Chris Colabello, which highlights that doping is a widespread problem not limited to Olympic athletes.
A week after the IOC received the 2008 retests and the processed results, the organization proceeded to disqualify 12 athletes from the 2012 London Olympics, including Russian gold medalist Yuliya Zaripova. The 3,000m steeplechase winner also tested positive for turinabol, which appears to be the anabolic steroid of choice among cheating athletes.
The timing of the recent positive tests is the result of the methodology used by the World Anti-Doping Agency to ensure that the process is as accurate as possible. While the original tests did not result in the immediate forfeiture of cheating athletes during the games, new techniques used in the retests managed to detect small amounts of performance-enhancing substances that went unnoticed before.
Doping threatens the entire fabric of sport and has the potential to marr fair competition. It’s important to understand that if the Olympics aren’t clean in the near future, then there won’t be much reason to continue the games except to perpetuate a charade of falsities. Athletes like Slesarenko and Zaripova may as well keep the medals they’ve earned in their respective races to the moral bottom.