When it comes to the Russia’s Olympic doping scandal, any new revelation shouldn’t come as a surprise in what has grown from a quiet suspicion to clear-cut case of systematic cheating, reminiscent of East Germany in the 1970s. The latest plausible plot twist of the scandal occurred last week, when Anna Antseliovich, the head of the Russian anti-doping agency, Rusada, admitted the state-sponsored doping program to The New York Times saying, “It was an institutional conspiracy.”
Those simple words could’ve been the end to the story, an admission of guilt for an obvious crime. Those words could’ve contained enough clout to put Russia’s immense cheating in the rear view. The only issue remaining for Russia is the severity of the punishment the World Doping Agency and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) deem fit for the crime.
However, like the entire cheating episode itself, Antseliovich’s admittance of guilt couldn’t even remain genuine. Following the New York Times article and subsequent fallout, Antseliovich walked back her comments to the Times, stating that her words had been misrepresented, a fitting development for an already inept cover up.
Regardless of Antesliovich’s change in perspective, what’s been made clear in revelation after revelation is that Russia had the intention to cheat, and carried out its plans in the 2008 Beijing, 2012 London and 2014 Sochi Olympics. And while the nation may never officially admit to doing so, their participation in systematic doping is more than understood by the international sports community.
The time between now and Russia’s potential punishment haunts those who support the Olympics and are forced to consistently question the legitimacy surrounding the Games, an injustice reinforced by the state-sponsored doping program.
What is even more ridiculous than the scope of their cheating is the nature of Russia’s laissez-faire attitude towards the severity of the issue. This is despite them having hands as dirty as US figure skater Tonya Harding’s following the 1994 attack on fellow American Nancy Kerrigan, the last time the Olympics supremely transcended sport in the national media because of an act which reached down into the vile depths of Machiavellianism.
Looking forward, the punishment Russia should receive from the IOC needs to be significant enough to deter any other nation from carrying out a similar doping program.
Supporters and Olympic athletes alike deserve a just conclusion to the embarrassing affair that has lead to the detriment of international sport. In the end, journalists, athletes, and all who advocate for fair play fall under the same roof. We are all victims who share the likeness of Nancy Kerrigan, waiting for a punishment for the matter that has irrevocably affected us.