‘Big answer to big scandal’: German tabloid to snub Russian Olympic team’s medal count

© Anton Denisov
German tabloid Bild said it will not report Russian athletes’ medal count during the Rio 2016 Olympics if they are allowed to compete by the IOC. The move comes after a WADA report recommended a total ban on the Russian team in light of new doping allegations. 

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) and its president, Thomas Bach, have distanced themselves from “making a clear decision” on the “doping-infected” Russian Olympic team, Walter Straten, Bild’s chief sports editor, claimed in an article on Wednesday. 

“We won’t do that!” wrote Straten, who is also a member of Bild’s editorial board.  

“Should Russia be allowed to participate in the Games, Bild will have it exempted from the medal count. Declare Russian athletes’ results null and void!”

The new doping allegations are “such a big scandal that needs a big answer,” Straten went on. “A complete ban!”

“If Bach doesn’t want to turn his anti-doping struggle into a farce, there is no other choice,” he asserted.

RT has asked Bild to clarify the article, but received the following response: "Unfortunately, we cannot respond to your request [for an interview] at the moment," Manuel Adolphsen, a public relations officer of Axel Springer SE publishing house, which owns Bild, wrote in an email.

Bild’s story has been “obviously politicized,” Germany-based journalist and editor Phil Butler told RT on Thursday. “Bild is owned by Axel Springer that has ties to the German banking system and all this economic warfare.

“The IOC is a political organization as well, Bach has been very good in trying to play a moderate stance on that. And he’s a sportsman, so I think he’s trying to be fair on this. There’s going to be a backlash because there’s so much weight of media and corporate money and all these things we talk about behind besmirching Russia in any [possible] way.”

On Monday, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) claimed in a report by Canadian lawyer Richard McLaren that the Russian Sports Ministry had been widely involved in swapping athletes’ doping samples at its laboratories in Moscow and Sochi, taking advantage of assistance from the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB).

WADA has called for Russian athletes to be banned from competing in the Rio Games en masse, the organization’s spokesman, Ben Nichols, said on Monday.

The McLaren inquiry centered upon accusations made in The New York Times by whistleblower Grigory Rodchenkov, the former head of the under-fire Moscow Anti-Doping Laboratory.

The whistleblower has alleged that up to 15 Russian medal winners at the Sochi 2014 Winter Games were involved in an operation in which “tainted” samples were swapped for “clean” ones through an elaborate covert scheme. 

Russian authorities said the allegations were so serious that a full investigation was needed, but criticized the notion of a ban on all Russian athletes at the Rio Games. 

“We wholeheartedly disagree with the stance taken by Mr. McLaren, who believes that the possible banning of hundreds of clear Russian athletes from taking part in the Olympic Games is a valid ‘unpleasant consequence’ of the charges laid out in the report,” the Russian Olympic Committee said in a statement on Tuesday morning.

Later that day, the IOC also announced it will “explore the legal options with regard to a collective ban of all Russian athletes for the Olympic Games 2016 versus the right to individual justice.”