He wrote that it is evident that it’s better to have a competition in which all the athletes are clean. As this week’s investigative report from the World Anti-Doping Agency showed, the Sochi Games certainly were not.
“It’s impossible not to feel sympathy for any athlete whose skin crawls at the idea of getting into a starting block next to a Russian these days,” the author said.
However, “the Olympics stand to lose plenty without them,” according to Futterman.
According to the author, the Olympic Games are at their best when they feature two superpowers facing off.
He recalled that back in the 1970s and 1980s, the showdowns between East and West really felt like a civilized form of warfare, a clash between oppression and freedom.
“But all the injustices—and the challenge of righting them—only made the stakes feel that much bigger. It wasn’t just the West vs. the East or Democracy vs. Communism. It was Good vs. Evil—and it was awesome,” the author wrote.
According to the author after the fall of the “iron curtain” the Olympics suddenly become much less exciting. But in recent years the games have that Cold War era ‘flavor’ once again.
“Russian President Vladimir Putin has brought back some of that old Cold War flavor. Like his Soviet predecessors, Putin has made the Olympics and international sports an essential part of reasserting Russian power the past decade,” Futterman wrote.
The complete ban on the Russian team’s participation at the Games threatened to turn the Olympics into an uninterrupted succession of US wins, as it was in the 1984 Games in Los Angeles, when the Soviet Union boycotted them.
Back then the US won a “ridiculous” 174 medals. The next closest country was Romania, with 53.
On Sunday, the IOC made a decision not to ban the entire Russian team from participating in the 2016 Summer Olympic Games, leaving it to the respective International Federations to decide on whether individual Russian athletes will be participating in the competition.
The IOC also noted that Russian athletes with a doping record will be suspended from participating in the competition, including Russian track and field athletes who won't be able to take part in the Games in accordance with the previous decision made by IAAF. Although Russian team will be allowed to participate in the Olympics, it will be without its track and field athletes. It also remains unclear how many other sportsmen will be allowed to compete.
“Without a Russian team, the Games threaten to turn into a two-week victory lap for Team USA. There will be almost no drama,” the author noted.
According to the author the Olympics in Sochi showed that Russia needs the Games to reassert itself in the XXI century. “And yet, I can’t let go of the idea that Olympics need Russia badly, too,” Futterman concluded.
On the same note French sports newspaper L’Equipe warned that, “The Rio Olympics wouldn't be the same” without Russia's national team taking part in the games.
Russia has a good shot at leading the pack in wrestling, gymnastics, weightlifting, fencing, swimming and boxing which would account for about 75 percent of the total number of medals the Russian Olympians could win, the newspaper wrote.
If Russia is banned from taking part in the 2016 Olympics, L’Equipe wrote that the overall level of the Games in Rio would be brought down and would make way for athletes with “lesser credentials,” which would now have a chance to come forward and fill the void.
Many athletes around the world also protested the decision by the CAS to ban the Russian team calling it “an unfair decision that defies any reasonable explanation.”
In an interview with Sputnik, Mostafa Shoughi, sports editor at the Iranian newspaper Hamshari, said that the current scandal is all about Russia’s relations with the West.
“A long time ago, the US, Canada and European countries started the so-called 'new Cold War in sports with Russia. President Putin said that these countries boycotted the 1980 Moscow Olympics and also Russia’s boycott of the Los Angeles Games in 1984. The president said those boycotts were a mistake. But this war still goes on, unilaterally being waged by the West,” Mostafa Shoughi said.
Legendary Serbian basketballer Zoran Slavnic minced no words when commenting on the Court of Arbitration’s ruling.
“This is a political decision, no doubt about that. I still hope it won’t stand and the CAS will eventually retract it," Slavnic said.