Russian athletes banned from Rio games

Russia's athletes have been banned from the Olympic Games in Rio. The International Court of Arbitration for Sport decided in the last instance, rejecting the appeals of 68 athletes affected by the case. As bitter as the decision is for individual athletes it was inevitable, commentators argue.

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Mladá fronta dnes (CZ) /

There are always losers in the anti-doping campaign

Two-time Olympic pole vault champion Yelena Isinbayeva has called Russia's Olympic ban the "funeral of athletics". But it is precisely to save sport that this step must be taken, Mladá fronta dnes argues:

“As fellow human beings we can understand Isinbayeva's frustration. Her doping record is officially clean. … But you can't ignore the entire doping forest for the sake of a few healthy trees. It was clear that someone would lose out with the decision. Either those Russian athletes who are clean or the reputation of the Olympics, or even sport itself. The fact that some athletes steer clear of doping doesn't hide the fact that under state supervision others swallowed everything they could to enhance their performance. The goal here is to send an unequivocal and symbolically important message that this mass erosion of moral standards can no longer be tolerated.”

Deutschlandfunk (DE) /

Sports federations should decide on ban

A blanket ban excluding all Russian athletes from the Olympics makes little sense for Deutschlandfunk:

“It is highly unlikely that the Kremlin will take something like this sitting down. Putin generally reacts to pressure with more pressure, not insight. So what might happen is a compromise, whereby the IOC hands over responsibility to the individual sports federations. These in turn will assess the level of involvement of the Russian sports federations in state doping. This could lead to a series of partial bans. But this, too, would not be taking individuals into consideration. This is not ideal, but is also common practice in politics. International sanctions, boycotts and embargoes are aimed at impacting governments but in reality they only hurt the little people. One thing is certain, however: it is not the CAS [Court of Arbitration for Sport] that will be the death of athletics but Russian state-sponsored doping.”

Politiken (DK) /

Ban Russia from the Fifa World Cup too

The discussion about banning Russia from the Olympic Games falls short of the mark for Politiken:

“Russia's President Vladimir Putin has promised to suspend all officials involved - with the exception of Vitaly Mutko who, the Kremlin says, is not involved, but who was thrown off the Olympic Committee of the Games in Rio. But this very same Mutko is also on the senior management team at the Fifa football association and must be thrown out immediately. After all, according to the WADA, Russian football is also tainted by doping. If that is the case Fifa must rethink its decision to hold the 2018 World Cup in Russia. Can you really leave an event like that in the hands of the world champions of lies and deceit?”

De Volkskrant (NL) /

Collective punishment would be unfair

Russian athletes should not be collectively punished, De Volkskrant warns:

“Russia is on the verge of being banned outright from the Olympic Games. But would that really be fair? The ban would be a response to the international call for a crackdown on doping, but it would have one important drawback: namely, a gross injustice regarding the rights of individuals. It has not been proven that there was cheating in all Russian sports disciplines, much less that all its athletes cheated. ... The most honest solution would be a policy of no mercy for the cheats and those responsible for the cheating. But to give all those who claim to be innocent a chance.”

Sydsvenskan (SE) /

Nationalism was a reason for doping too

Putin used the Russian athletes' doping-fuelled success to cover himself in glory, Sydsvenskan concludes:

“As much as we may dislike the idea of collective punishment there's no avoiding the fact that these athletes represent a country led by Vladimir Putin, who was a member of the KGB, which became the FSB and facilitated the doping. According to the independent polling institute Levada Putin still has the support of 81 percent of the population. An inflated sense of nationalism appears to be a key factor here. According to Putin the Russians' success at the Winter Games in Sochi, where they won 33 medals - seven more than the country that came in second - was proof that he had strengthened the ailing country. Now we see that that success was the result of doping - just like in the times of the Soviet Union. Will it never end?”

La Repubblica (IT) /

Revelations have hurt Putin's pride

Sochi will be the Kremlin boss's downfall, La Repubblica mocks:

“Putin, who has described the end of the Soviet Union as the 'greatest tragedy in history', wanted Russia to return to its former sport glory at any cost. The Olympic Games in Sochi were the tsar's big revenge - regarding both organisation and sport. But now those games have buried Russian sport. … Because after the mysterious deaths of two former colleagues, Grigory Rodchenkov, the man who ran Russia's anti-doping lab and who knew how the Russian secret services had manipulated the tests in Sochi and Kazan, defected to the US and spilled the beans. … His revelations about state-organised doping have hit Russian sport and Putin's pride like a bombshell. If Russia is banned from the games in Rio, the tsar will be left naked and wounded - and therefore all the more terrifying.”

De Telegraaf (NL) /

Make an example of Russia

The evidence presented should lead to Russia being excluded from the Olympic Games in Rio, De Telegraaf emphasises:

“IOC President Thomas Bach said on Monday that he would not hesitate to impose grave sanctions. But would the IOC really dare to exclude a major sporting country like Russia from the games? Hopefully. Russia has used sport as an extension of its own power mentality and stopped at nothing to win as many medals as possible. That is a strategy that reminds us of the heyday of the GDR. If Russia is not made an example of here, then the Olympic Games will lose their credibility and any Russian medal will be suspect from the start. ”

More opinions

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (DE) / 19 July 2016
  Russian Team in Rio would mean capitulation for the Olympics (in German)