Russia’s State Duma, the lower house of the Federal Assembly of Russia, have issued a statement responding to the IAAF ban. The house members agreed that banning clean athletes from the Olympics in Rio is a violation of their human rights, and MP Pavel Krasheninnikov described the rulings as “medieval“. Lawmakers came together on June 21 to condemn the ban, saying:
“Repressions against athletes who have never been involved in foul play are, according to the State Duma, not only an unfair decision, but also undermine the basic principle of the Olympic movement… Barring Russian athletes, including those who have won world fame due to their outstanding achievements in sport, from competing at the 31st Summer Olympic Games of 2016 in retaliation for the conduct of their dishonest colleagues is a direct violation of human rights.”
For those who haven’t been following the story: the IAAF banned Russia from international competition after the WADA found evidence of widespread doping among their athletes. Since the ban was issued, several former officials have come forward to corroborate the existence of systemic corruption within the Russian sporting community.
While official “Russian” teams will not currently be allowed to compete, clean athletes can still take part in the events as “Neutrals“. Unfortunately, for athletes like Russian high-jumper Andrey Silnov, that’s not enough. “I do not see any sense in participating in the Olympic Games under the Olympic rings, I am a patriot of my country, and if the Russian team does not go to Brazil, I will not go either,” Silnov told press.
For the moment, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) have given the IAAF ban their full support. Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko did not react well when he found out about the decision, calling for the dissolution of the IAAF.
Mutko has been extremely critical of the ban from the beginning, claiming the decision was politically motivated
. The Sports Minister has not been shy about expressing his discontent since the IOC announced that they would uphold the decision. “By shifting all blame on the Russian Athletic Federation, they relieved the International Association of its responsibility,” Mutko told reporters
. “It is IAAF that needs to be dissolved, considered that its president [Sebastian Coe] is under a criminal investigation for receiving bribes.”
Two-time WBA heavyweight champion Nikolai Valuev also believes the ban is politically motivated. “[Doping] is not a Russian problem, it is a global problem,” Valuev told reporters.
Valuev is not the only athlete that’s worried that the Russian ban may not fix the greater issues. Even without the presence of countries with proven doping violations, the lack of cohesive oversight has many athletes worried. Australian swimmer Melanie Wright made her fears clear in a recent interview with Gold Coast Bulletin
“If the Russian athletics team has been found to have this level of doping, and it’s systemic with labs and corruption and that sort of stuff, you can guarantee other sports are in the exact same boat. Obviously, as a swimmer my concern is towards swimming but the investigation should certainly be expanded beyond track and field… There is no consistency at all and it just seems you’re guaranteed to line up next to drug cheats at the Olympics in whatever sport you’re in and that’s sad that is the case. You just hope this is the start of cracking down on it and lead to change in the not too distant future.”
Even to the casual observer, it’s clear that the current situation is not ideal. The World Olympians Association have called the international community to create a universal three-point plan to combat doping, but past efforts have not been successful. Earlier this year, UK Athletics released
“A Manifesto for Clean Athletics
”, outlining a strategy for creating a neutral third-party to oversee international drug testing, but the plans were not adopted. In fact, their 14-point plan hasn’t been mentioned much since it’s original release.