In an ever-changing world, it’s nice to know that some things never change — like the Russians cheating at sports events.
The World Anti-Doping Agency has released a scathing, 323-page report that concludes that, in Russia, “acceptance of cheating at all levels is widespread.” The report cites incidents in which a testing lab director ordered more than 1,000 samples destroyed in order to thwart the investigation and evidence that the Russian Federal Security Service interfered with testing, intimidated lab workers and even posed as lab engineers during the Sochi Olympics, which Russia hosted, to infiltrate and impede testing efforts. The upshot is that Russia’s efforts allowed athletes who were suspected of cheating to continue to compete in international contests, including the Olympics. The chair of the body that issued the report said: “It’s worse than we thought.”
The chair also said that Russia’s state-sponsored cheating “may be the residue of the old Soviet Union system.” If so, that’s some pretty long-lasting residue! The Soviet Union ended more than 20 years ago.
Still, the reference to the Soviet Union brought back fond memories of the Olympics of the ’60s and ’70s and ’80s, when it was the United States versus the Soviet bloc and Russian and East German athletes were widely suspected to be doping. The East German women, in particular, were famous for their burly, broad-shouldered, extraordinarily mannish physiques. Everybody figured they were cheating, but they never seemed to get caught, and the extent of the doping wasn’t exposed until later.
Now the Russians have been exposed as cheaters, and international sports entities are saying that Russian athletes may be banned from the Olympics unless there is reform, immediately. The Russians respond that this is all a politically motivated witch hunt linked to Russia’s incursions into Ukraine. (Seriously!) It’s the classic Russian blame somebody else response.
This is all just sports, of course, but it does make you think: how can we ever trust these guys? If the Russians are flagrantly and systematically cheating at sports events, and Russian agents are interfering with testing to allow the cheating to continue, how can we ever credit their agreement to any kind of treaty or peace accord?