Bad sports: 'Political influences' possibly behind Russia Olympic woes

Bad sports: 'Political influences' possibly behind Russia Olympic woes
In retrospect, because of the new controls, because of what’s been discovered by anti-doping agencies, there’s also a slight shadow over the London 2012 Games, journalist Mary Dejevsky told RT. British cyclist Dan Stephens also provided his comments.

RT:  The first report was criticized for having a lack of evidence. Are you convinced by the evidence mentioned in the new report?

Mary Dejevsky: I don’t find anything particularly sinister about the timing of the release of the report today. I think the interim report, which appeared before the Rio Olympics, did seem to be rushed through in order to come in just in time for teams to be banned or otherwise sanctioned before the summer Olympics. But I think that the time of the interim report and the now, that’s probably about normal for the first part, and then the full report.

I think there are some concerns about larger political objectives and initiatives. Gradually, we’re seeing cold war values creep back into society and maybe sports being used as a facilitator of that. - Dan Stephens, British cyclist, to RT.

RT: Doping is an international problem - and Russia moved quickly to solve it after the scandal broke. Why isn't WADA taking that into account?

MJ: There was a lot of talk today [Friday] about how maybe Russian teams would have to be banned in the future until it was demonstrated there had been reforms and that the practices of doping had been excluded from Russian sport. But it seems to me that the biggest news and the strongest measures that were taken were actually the ones taken before the summer Olympics, because that’s when everybody is noticing; that had the big effect on the Russian team and the complete banning of the Paralympic team. So without any big event similar to either the summer Olympics or winter Olympics immediately on the horizon, I think it will take longer for the sports authorities to consider what, if anything, more they are going to do.

I think it is wrong for WADA to allow anyone to focus on one nation. Russia has got problems, but what other nations are receiving the same treatment and level of in-depth investigation into their conduct with regards to the management of anti-doping and the administration of correct testing procedures and sound analysis. As far as I’m aware, there hasn’t been any other analysis of any other nations to the level that Russia has experienced... - Dan Stephens, British cyclist, to RT.

One of the things the extra time may be used for is that it may not be, of course, just Russia that managed to evade some of the controls. Before London 2012, everybody here was saying ‘we’re going to have the cleanest Olympic Games ever.’ Now, in retrospect, because of the new controls, because of what’s been discovered, there’s also maybe a slight shadow over London in retrospect. Also, there’s the question of the whole anti-doping regime in Olympic sport because there was an assumption that things were improving and sport was getting cleaner, and this casts doubt on the inspection procedures – not just on Russia, but on the international inspection procedures.

RT: The source of the e-mails presented today - the dubious Dr Rodchenkov, who's facing charges in Russia for meddling with urine samples and had to flee the country. Why is he being considered a reliable source in this investigation?

MJ: I think there’s going to be a long, hard look taken by the international anti-doping authorities about their methods. I think there are reforms already in process and changes to the system, especially to the inspection regime. So… there is already change on the horizon. Of course, from their perspective, they would say one of the reasons Russia has been singled out is because they see what has happened as being a ‘nationally organized doping effort’ to evade the inspections, and because so many athletes appear to have been involved…

But we hear from Russia the idea that almost every Russian athlete is branded as a ‘cheat’ before they even start and that this is a political move. And it’s very hard to say which came first: The scale of the cheating that has been revealed, or that the spotlight was on Russia first and that’s why they found so many people evading the controls?

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.