By MICHAEL AVERKO*
For you non-sports minded Russia watchers, the ethically flawed antics of the IOC (International Olympic Committee), WADA (World Anti-Doping Agency) and Western mass media at large, highlight a predominating anti-Russian bias that is definitely bigoted.
Having personally penned the title of this essay, let me say that the February 1 CAS (Court of Arbitration for Sport) decision favouring Russian athletes, is proof positive that not everyone in the West is motivated (subconsciously or otherwise) by anti-Russian sentiment.
Upon announcing its decision to ban Russia from the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics (with some Russian athletes competing under the Olympic flag and “Olympic Athlete from Russia” designation), the IOC indicated that the WADA propped McLaren report’s claim of a Russian state-sponsored Olympic and Paralympic doping campaign hasn’t been proven. Yet, this fact hasn’t stopped the BBC and New York Times from falsely stating that the IOC decision is based on a primary Russian government culpability. Without definitively making the case in the open, the IOC said that there were testing irregularities at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, that favoured some Russian athletes.
The February 1 CAS decision took into consideration that a good number of the IOC banned Russian athletes have been extensively tested inside and outside of Russia over a lengthy period of time, without ever being found guilty of a drug infraction. In addition, the CAS (on the known facts) reasonably concluded that the claimed 2014 Sochi Winter Olympic testing irregularities haven’t been firmly concluded. Even if these irregularities occurred (something that remains unclear on account of the claim not being fully presented in the open), one then practically wonders whether it was with the knowledge of any or all of the effected Russian athletes and if their actual test results were indeed positive? Meantime, the prior and post 2014 Winter Olympic Olympic drug tests of a good number of these athletes reveal innocence.
The CAS found 11 Russian Olympians to have been previously found guilty of a drug infraction, that warranted a ban from Pyeongchang, as opposed to the hypocritically flawed IOC decision to implement a lifetime ban against them. The hypocrisy concerns the number of non-Russian athletes found guilty of doping, who didn’t receive lifetime bans.
On the matter of gross anti-Russian hypocrisy, note famed US Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps’ 2009 admission of smoking pot. Phelps wasn’t banned from Olympic competition for that action. On the other hand, the IOC feels that it’s appropriate to ban the Russian 1500 metre speed skating world record holder Denis Yuskov from the upcoming Winter Olympics, for a prior marijuana smoking episode in 2008. The unfairness of that move has been noted by some earnest folks in the West. Another of several repugnant anti-Russian IOC acts, concerns the banning of Russian short track speed skater Viktor Ahn.
As I’ve previously noted, Richard McLaren’s claim that 1,000 Russian athletes benefitted from a Russian government involved illicit regimen of cheating, would likely mean that ALL of the Russian athletes in question, would be shown beyond a reasonable doubt to have taken such a course. This hasn’t been proven at all, with a note that the combined Russian Summer and Winter Olympic and Paralympic participating athletes is (if I’m not mistaken) under 1,000.
On the US National Public Radio, I heard the WADA-connected American legal sports politico Travis Tygart (in rather self-serving fashion) suggest his objectivity, by noting how he went after the legendary American cyclist Lance Armstrong. This is sheer BS, as Tygart never advocated banning all American cyclists and-or all US athletes from major competition. In comparison, Tygart (along with Canadian sports legal politico Dick Pound and some other pious blowhards) have favoured a collective ban on all Russian athletes.
The likes of Tygart have a committed track record of extreme bias against Russia. In contrast, the IOC President Thomas Bach, comes across as a wishy washy sort, not fit to serve his position. It’s a high point of chutzpah for Bach to second guess the CAS ruling on Russia, by saying that the CAS needs to be revamped. Bach and his fellow IOC cronies have belittled the CAS decision, with the announcement that none of the cleared Russian athletes will be invited to the upcoming Winter Olympics. Russian Federation Council Speaker Valentina Matviyenko befittingly said that the IOC and WADA are in need of restructuring.
At the 2016 Rio Summer Olympics, Bach took the position that the individual sports federations should decide on whether to restrict Russian partition. With rare exception, most of these IOC affiliated sports bodies decided (based on facts) that Russia shouldn’t be penalized at that Olympiad. This time around, Bach has leaned towards the “pressure”, as constantly rehashed by leading Western mass media outlets “to do something” against Russia.
A February 2 RT article provides a healthy offset to the overall biased Western mass media reporting on the subject of Russian sports doping. The former details numerous reasons for not believing much of the negative allegations against Russian Olympians. Among the particulars, is the faulty notion that Russian athletes live and train under the same state-manipulated structure. In actuality, a good number of them train outside Russia, with non-Russian coaches. Touching on this last point, The Washington Post’s Sally Jenkins in an August 10, 2016 article showed how Russian swimmer Yulia Efimova, had taken performance enhancing drugs on her own, while training in the US, as opposed to some Russian state-sponsored method. (On the subject of Russian sports doping, Jenkins’ aforementioned piece is an exception to the generally biased trend in Western mass media.)
It’s matter of established record that Italy has the most Olympic sports dopers, despite having a smaller number of competing athletes when compared to Russia. Per capita, India, Turkey and Iran have higher rates of such doping infractions than Russia, with South Africa and Belgium having about the same percentage of positive doping as Russia. The December 24, 2017 Worlds Apart show, suggests that a disproportionate number of Western athletes have been given exemptions for drugs having a performance enhancing capability. (That RT show had earlier featured Dick Pound, which I followed up on.)
Moments before the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympic opening ceremony, CAS came out with another decision on Russian athletes, which contradicts its February 1 ruling. Bigotry has been given a boost over the idea of judging people as individuals. To quote The New York Times’ Juliet Macur: “The whistle-blowers are holding their breath. The Russians and clean athletes are, too.”
As I noted: “Substitute ‘Russians’ for some other group in such a negatively applied way and see the selective outrage. No NYT journo would write a bigoted comparison that differentiates between law-abiding citizens and African-Americans, followed by a utilization of crime statistics as ‘proof’ for such a presented contrast.”
Along with numerous other Western mass media journalists, some of Macur’s other commentary have a noticeable anti-Russian bias. I wonder if she learned that slant from her father, whom she recently wrote about?
*Michael Averko is a New York based independent foreign policy analyst and media critic, who forwarded his article to the Amateur Sport blog. It was initially published by Eurasia Review. Minor grammatical editing by TS.