Ban on Russian Athletes: Good for Sports?

Ban on Russian Athletes: Good for Sports?

The International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) had banned Russian track and field athletes from the Rio Olympics.
The Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) and 68 Russian athletes attempted to overturn the suspension.
The Court of Arbitration for Sports (CAS) has ruled that the ban will stand.

Reason for Ban

International Olympic Committee (IOC) had found evidence of Russian urine samples being “manipulated” across the “vast majority” of summer and winter Olympic sports from late 2011 to August 2015. The Russian sports administration was guilty of state sponsored doping and cover- up actions to prevent athletes being caught for doping.

Implications of Ban?

  • Some Russian athletes could compete in Rio as neutral if they meet a number of criteria, including being repeatedly tested outside Russia.
  • It is a strong message to deter doping in sports.
  • It is good for cleaning sports, creating a level playing field and beneficial for the long term health of sportspersons.

Message for India

Indian culture and social norms obtaining have impacted Indian sports in the following ways:

  • There is rampant cheating of age in junior sports.
  • Drug use is common and is an accepted norm. Indian athletes, most notably weight lifters and throwers, have been caught for doping on numerous occasions.
  • India ranked third behind Russia and Turkey in a 2013 World Anti-Doping Agency report.
  • Doping is a malaise that has afflicted Indian sports for long. India has reacted to this malaise mostly by sweeping it under the carpet. The general approach is quite similar to how, Srinivasan run BCCI, had concluded that all was fine with the IPL till Supreme Court got involved.

Knowing Indian psychology, culture of corruption, love for shortcuts and manipulation I think Indians are unlikely to be seriously deterred. We may need several more  bans on Indian athletes and sports federations to clean up our sports. Drug abuse in my perception is only increasing.
 

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