Russia not banned: Every medal a Russian wins is tainted

It seems to many that allowing Russian athletes to compete at the Rio Olympics goes against every initiative to clean up sport.   But the irony is even more bitter than that for some Russians.

The lifting of the ban on Russian athletes at this year’s Olympic Games has ironically resulted in one of the country’s strongest anti-doping voices being barred from competing.

In 2014, middle-distance runner Yuliya Stepanova and her husband Vitaliy – an ex-employee of the Russian Anti-Doping Agency – blew the whistle on Russia’s state-sanctioned drug cheating.

Despite having been banned once before for doping, the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) approved her application to compete in Rio as a neutral athlete, for her “truly exceptional contribution to the fight against doping in sport”.

But overnight, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) said while it would leave it up to each sport’s governing body to decide whether to let athletes compete, no Russians who have been sanctioned for doping in the past would be allowed to compete – even if they’re now clean.

The IOC even singled out Stepanova, saying “the sanction to which she was subject and the circumstances in which she denounced the doping practices which she had used herself, do not satisfy the ethical requirements for an athlete to enter the Olympic Games”.

Former Kiwi Olympian Dick Quax, who won silver in the 5000m in Montreal in 1976, says the IOC’s ruling “is very disappointing”.

“Stepanova would have been able to compete if the Russians had been banned. She will not be able to compete now,”

So all Russian dopes can attend, but not those who spoke up against it.

Yuliya and Vitaliy Stepanova should be allowed to compete as individuals.

If you were the IOC, what would you have decided?

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