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Russia’s Dilemma With its Athletic Reputation

By Frank Yin

When the Tokyo Olympics came around, I was sitting on my couch eagerly watching the world’s best athletes compete for the most prestigious athletic competition. Then, I looked up the medal count and I saw a team called ROC. ROC? I looked up the ROC and realized it was the Russian Olympic Committee. It immediately made sense because the top standings did not have a team under the name “Russia”. Russia is a very large and powerful country, so it should obviously be at the top standings. I looked closer at the flag of the ROC and saw the olympic rings under the remnants of the Russian flag. I asked my dad why the Russian athletes went under the ROC, and he told me completely false information. It turns out that Russia was banned from the Olympics because Russian authorities supported its athletes with the use of illegal substances in previous Olympics. Since Russia is banned, the Russian athletes have to compete under a different name with a different flag and anthem (which was changed to a popular concerto). Many people do not trust Russian athletes because of their damaged reputation.

In the 2014 Sochi Olympics, Russian officials helped its athletes by hiding their use of illegal substances. Russia earned 33 medals before the athletes were caught. The World Anti-Doping Agency banned Russia from the Olympics for 4 years which was then deducted to 2 years. There has been increased success for Russian athletes for the Tokyo Olympics. They won 3-15 more medals than the 3 previous Olympics. Now, there has been raised suspicion of Russians using illegal substances. When the silver medalist, Ryan Murphy, was at a press conference, he announced that he did not believe that the race was fair (in a drug related way). He did not directly accuse the Russian gold medalist, Rylov, but Rylov was likely a reason for Murphy’s suspicion. Due to Covid, there has been a 45% reduction in global testing for illegal substances and 20% reduction at the start of 2021. This could allow athletes to get away with doping.

Trust in Russian athletes has not undergone much change and Russia is being unbanned for the 2024 Paris Olympics. The ROC has been furious about the lack of accountability there has been for Russian athletes. They have retaliated by tweeting against suspicions. Their tweet mentions how insulted they feel about suspicions and that others are jealous and spreading propaganda.

Heavy amounts of close inspection for the Russian athletes may be helpful for solving trust issues. Then, the results can be compared to other competitions which can ensure that there is no severe amount of cheating. Looking at recent competitions can help, so that the results of major competitions make rational sense. If there are suspicious results then there can be investigations. Repairing the Russian reputation will help stop the suspicions of many people.


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