Russia, a country that has become synonymous with controversy, is notorious in the sports world for cheating and corruption. Although Russia’s name and flag are prohibited at the Olympics due to continuous cheating incidents, Russian athletes who are not connected to doping scandals are able to compete in international competitions under the alias of the Russian Olympic Committee.
While it is unfortunate that individual Russian athletes cannot compete under their country’s name, Russia must be held accountable for several instances of cheating and should not be able to participate in any sporting events.
In theory, the creation of the ROC should have been a blank slate for hardworking athletes who wanted to disassociate themselves from Russia’s tarnished reputation. In reality, the ROC followed in the footsteps of Russia’s unethical tactics by continuing to abuse performance enhancing substances, demonstrating to the world that Russia, under any title, should be prohibited from competing alongside world-class athletes.
Despite specific evidence to suspend Russia, the punishment they received was inadequate. After a long-running investigation in 2018 on Russia’s drug test results, evidence was found proving that thousands of tests were manipulated in order to protect former athletes who now have government positions according to The New York Times.
According to NBC Sports, in 2019, the former president of the International Amateur Athletic Federation was found guilty of covering up $3.5 million paid by Russian athletes in return for falsified drug tests. The World Anti-Doping Agency was incredibly generous by only suspending Russia from competing for four years, later reduced to two, considering that numerous crimes were committed.
Since, Russia has continued to find loopholes out of any serious punishment, creating a deceitful reputation that is beyond repair. Their behavior has caused both fans and officials to doubt the legitimacy of their operation.
Most sports fans acknowledge the years of dedication and strict discipline that athletes undergo to reach the world-class level, so when athletes enhance their performance with synthetic substances, it diminishes their successes.
It is difficult not to be skeptical of ROC athletes if they medal in an event. The Russian Anti-Doping Agency recorded over 1,385 anti-doping rule violations by Russian athletes from 2010 to 2020, proving that Russia cannot be trusted to compete and should have its privileges revoked.
Unfortunately, the idea of allowing clean, talented athletes to compete separately from their country has been ruined for many. Professional coaches who work in the shadows of doping scandals potentially ruin athletic careers by pressuring athletes into doping. Their careers have short lifespans whereas coaches’ can go on for decades. Coaches must be properly penalized by having their licenses revoked and legally punished for subjecting young athletes to detrimental harm. Russian athletes and coaches must face severe punishments in order to teach a lesson that Russia has still not learned.
Competing at the international level is not only an honor, but a privilege. Russia has violated international laws morally and legally multiple times while actively attempting to find loopholes. With this in mind, Russia needs to face serious consequences for a much longer period of time in order to regain the privilege of hosting and competing in international athletic competitions.