17:13 GMT10 July 2020
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    Scapegoating and Russian Olympic Athletes

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    The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) lifted bans on 27 Russian athletes in February meaning that they could have taken part in the Winter Olympics, but the IOC was not satisfied with CAS's decision. What does this mean for the objectivity of the IOC?

    Helen Lenskyj, Professor Emerita in the Department of Social Justice at the University of Toronto takes part in this program.

    The first topic of concerns the way in which the final decision making process as regards the participation of the Russian team was left right until the last moment. Professor Lenskyj says that this is actually not that unusual as "CAS usually sets up an 'ad hoc' committee in the city where the games are being played. However, the three-person board which decides on the CAS commission said that they 'did not have jurisdiction' to decide on the fate of the Russian athletes….The backdrop to all of this is that in 2016 WADA (World Anti-Doping Agency) sent a team of investigators to Moscow which was headed by a CAS arbitrator… this was called an 'independent' enquiry, and the investigator Richard McLaren was called an 'independent' person who headed the team that wrote up the 'independent' report… The entire Russian team was disqualified, and that was a major disappointment because the individual athletes themselves were not given due process. In the meantime, they have been given due process because they filed their claims with CAS a few months ago individually, and then there was the surprise decision early February that there was not enough evidence in the view of the panel of the three judges and lawyers who looked at the case, so those athletes were given the green light. But the IOC always has the last word, and decided not to invite these 27 athletes…The IOC and WADA pretty much have the power to do absolutely anything, with or without justification." This has meant that the whole team was banned for the first time in Olympic history.

    Recent articles in the international press have highlighted that major doping scandals have been uncovered in various countries around the world; The Daily Mail reported that one third of all cross-country ski medalists since 2001 have 'suspicious' blood tests. Thus, isolating one team for such tough treatment is rather unfair to say the least, and smacks of scapegoating. Professor Lenskyj says that the 'Olympic Industry' is losing credibility. "The politicization has decades of history, and we should go back to the 1936 winter Olympics and Hitler's role in that. We can look at the Cold War and how it was played out in the Olympic sports in the 1960s and 1970s….It fits everybody's narrative in the West to demonize other countries, if it is Russia or China, all the better in terms of this prejudice way of thinking….It suits the Olympic Industry to say that they are 110% behind the war on doping; quite possibly because Russia is so highly profiled right now, there is scapegoating going on.

    We'd love to get your feedback at radio@sputniknews.com

    Russian athletes, 2018 Winter Olympic Games, CAS, WADA, International Olympic Committee (IOC), Russia
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