RUSSIA, DRUGS, & THE OLYMPICS
Mar. 7, 2018
Laura Alyssa Platé, Contributing Writer
The Olympic Games are always an exciting time across the world for athletes and non-athletes alike as young men and women from across borders compete for the Olympic Gold. With traditions going back to Ancient Greece, in which city states used these games to assert their physical and political dominance, these games today go a long way to extend an olive branch for peace, which is just what North and South Korea did when they marched under the Unified Korean Flag at the Opening Ceremonies in Pyeongchang, South Korea. This almost unprecedentedly rare occurrence is following months of tension between North Korea and the US and South Korea including the threat of nuclear war to the extent the world has not seen since the Cold War. Along with this show of unity, the two countries will be competing together as one Korean Hockey Team during the Olympic Games, and North Korean athletes will compete in four other Olympic events. This totals to twenty-two athletes competing in five events under the North Korean or Unified Korean flag for the first time in 8 years.
The 2018 Winter Olympics are shaping up to be extremely eventful as Russia has been banned from the Olympic Games by the International Olympic Committee for their involvement in the systematic doping of Russian athletes during the Sochi Olympics in 2014. Although individual athletes who cannot be proven to have participated in the scheme in which Russian Athletes received kickbacks for taking steroids during the Olympic Games to the tune of shares in Ural Mountain nickel mines, Russia itself is not allowed to compete in the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics. The IOC has stated they do not wish to punish athletes they cannot prove were cheating, and have reiterated on numerous occasions that Russia did not directly distribute drugs to their athletes during the Sochi Games.
Part of the IOC statement released regarding the decision to disallow Russia to compete in the 2018 Winter Olympics stated as follows,
“With regard to the participation of athletes from Russia at the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018, the decision of the IOC Executive Board (EB) of 5 December 2017 remains in place. It makes it clear that, since the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) is suspended, Russian athletes can participate in PyeongChang only on invitation by the IOC.
The result of the CAS decision does not mean that athletes from the group of 28 will be invited to the Games. Not being sanctioned does not automatically confer the privilege of an invitation. In this context, it is also important to note that, in his press conference, the CAS Secretary General insisted that the CAS decision “…does not mean that these 28 athletes are declared innocent”.