'Dangerous Times': Journalist Worried by 'Bias and Politicization' of Olympics

© Sputnik / Alexey Filippov / Go to the mediabankRussian athletes in the Pyeongchang Olympic Village
Russian athletes in the Pyeongchang Olympic Village - Sputnik International
Around 160 people have been granted permission to compete as “neutral” athletes under the banner of Olympic Athlete from Russia after being cleared of doping by an IOC anti-doping panel. Radio Sputnik discussed the issue with an independent journalist Rick Sterling.

Sputnik: The IOC has allowed 160 Russian athletes to participate in the Olympics. Then why hasn’t it allowed the Russian flag to be flown in Pyeongchang?

Rick Sterling: I think a lot of geopolitics has been brought here, sadly. There were two McLaren reports. One was produced very quickly and it had the allegation about state-sponsored doping. When the second report came out six months later, it had dropped that terminology, so all this talk about state-sponsored doping  is a relic of the past and even McLaren dropped that and reverted to what he called “an institutional conspiracy.”

Now, what’s the institution and what’s the conspiracy? It’s extremely vague and the evidence was predominantly based on the testimony of the main culprit who was involved in doping violations, and this is Grigory Rodchenkov who was paid by some of the athletes who were involved with him. But what McLaren failed to do and what they had effectively prevented from happening is a cross-examination of Rodchenkov to find out how far this extended, how many athletes were involved in this, was it 14, 40 or 400. Because McLaren, without providing any specific evidence, said there were over 1,000 athletes who benefited from that scheme. Yet he provided no evidence.

READ MORE: IOC: Athletes From Russia 'Clean,' Tested Rigorously as 'High Risk Group'

So what we had going on was a smear of all Russian athletes, very unfairly and without providing any specific evidence. Since that time, there have been 10 or 20 athletes actually involved in the campaign. This claim that over 1,000 benefited is completely over the top and how far it went in the sporting structure and institutions within Russia is also unclear. There’ve been a lot of accusations based on very little evidence.

Sputnik: What is your recommendation for the Olympic movement moving forward and becoming more harmonious, because it can’t stay like this, it’s breaking the Olympic movement down?

Olympic Athletes from Russia (OAR) parade during the opening ceremony of the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at the Pyeongchang Stadium on February 9, 2018 - Sputnik International
Russian Athletes at Winter Olympics: From Doping Tests to 'Most Stylish Award'
Rick Sterling: We just do the best we can. We hope and pray and encourage people to join with us and put an end to the demonization and expose the bias, hypocrisy and falsehoods. That’s what we have to do. There are even bigger things than the Olympic Games at stake.  We are at the Olympics now and the positive sign is that North Korea and South Korea have merged together. This is much more in keeping with the goodwill of the Olympics, of the objective of forging peaceful relations. Contrary to this, we see the US complaining about that, seemingly wanting to promote conflict. I think we are in dangerous times where the bias and politicization of the Olympics is part of the bigger dangers that we face in the world today.

Hear more about the topic from in this edition of Weekend Special with Rick Stirling.

The views expressed in this article are solely those of the speaker and do not necessarily reflect the official position of Sputnik.

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