The McLaren report gives more evidence to verify corruption within the Russian Olympic system. We know for a fact that state-sponsored doping occurred in Russia. So, what do we do?
My stance has always been to protect the rights of athletes and keep their health in the highest regard. I encourage temperance in the face of a blanket ban of all Russian athletes. Mob mentality would have us damn them all, and judge every Russian athlete guilty until proven innocent. Let’s keep our ethics in check.
Proven drug cheats should be prosecuted, banned and punished. Clean Russians should be allowed to compete. More than that, the IOC must find clever ways of prosecuting the officials, coaches and doctors who facilitated this corruption. Punishing politicians by banning clean athletes is unfair, and runs contrary to the Olympic ideals of inclusion and fairness.
I have compiled six ideas that could bring justice in the wake of the Russian Doping Scandal.
Ban the Russian flag from the Olympics
Banning the Russian flag is slightly different rhetoric than banning the Russian Team. Banning the flag punishes politicians. Banning the Russian team implies that all members of the team are guilty. By banning the flag, we are punishing the organizers by removing their honour from the games. Clean Russian athletes can compete under the Olympic flag, aware that their sporting system messed up.
Allow Russians to compete, but do not award them any medals
Russian athletes can compete, but they will not receive any official placement at the games. If Russian athletes finish second and third, then the fourth and fifth-placed athletes from other countries get silver and bronze.
Ban all politicians and administrators linked to the doping scandal from attending any Olympic events. Do not issue them accreditation. Do not issue them tickets. Revoke all Olympic privileges. Ban them from all competition venues.
Have a shaming ceremony
In the same way the Olympic movement celebrates the victors, there could be a public shaming ceremony, where every doctor, administrator, athlete, politician, involved in corruption is placed on view for the world to criticize. Create a clear and concise website that outlines the scandal, the players, and the rules that were broken. Wrap it up nicely with a solutions mindset. How can we make sport better? How can we improve the journey of the athlete?
Dedicate more resources to the enforcement of WADA rules
Part of the system that enforces clean sport is corrupt and broken. Clean sport is underfunded. More resources are needed to ensure that rules are policed properly. Let’s fine the Russians. More than fines, we must also use this scandal to catalyze increased sponsorship and funding for organizations that promote and enforce clean sport. The Olympic movement must support its clean sport rhetoric with reasonable resources.
Increase the study of PEDs
For many PEDs the scientific evidence supporting their performance enhancing claims is inconclusive. For many PEDs we cannot yet prove if they have an effect beyond the placebo effect. We also lack evidence to prove their short term and long-term health effects. The controversy around the banned Latvian drug Meldonium is a great example of this problem. Let’s use this scandal to collect fines and mobilize more resources for PED research.
This article is also available through CBC Sports.