(Washington Post) Russia is the first country in the history of the Olympics to have an entire team—track and field—banned from participating in the Games because of doping. Individual athletes, especially those who have trained for years outside Russia, may be able to argue their way back in. But senior officials from the International Olympics Committee have made it clear that they will not overturn the team ban announced by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF, the body responsible for worldwide track and field oversight).
The ban will have little direct effect on the rule or popularity of Russian President Vladimir Putin, for example in the upcoming parliamentary elections this September. Russian officials are already spinning thisas just one more example of the West unfairly beating up on the Russian state for the actions of rogue individuals. Russian media sources are also practicing the “what-about-ism” for which they are famous, highlighting corruption elsewhere in Olympic sports and arguing that Russia is not unique. (Of course whatmakes Russia unique is the overwhelming evidence provided by the World Anti-Doping Agency that Russian state authorities—including the FSB, the domestic intelligence organization that took over from the Soviet KGB—have continued to willfully abet cheating, even after the first report was filed against them six months ago.) Putin’s control of the media, as well as the Russian public’s ho-hum attitude toward corruption (as evidenced by its non-reaction to the recent Panama Papers revelations), means that short-term repercussions will be minimal for the regime. […]
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