Russia believes its track-and-field athletes are being picked on. Russia has it all wrong. Russia is being picked on, and for very good reason.
There’s a difference between athletes using performance-enhancing drugs and a country providing PEDs to its athletes, which is what Russia apparently has been doing for years.
The International Association of Athletics Federation, track’s governing body, suspended Russia in November after the World Anti-Doping Agency found evidence of state-sponsored PED use among the country’s track athletes. Now Russia is appealing its ban from the Olympics, arguing that 68 of its athletes were “of absolutely flawless reputation, not involved in doping scandals, not linked to certain coaches,” according to one official.
Isn’t that awesome? Russia’s appeal is not based on the argument that it is innocent of pumping drugs into its athletes but that it has located a precise number of athletes who haven’t failed a drug test. Out of hundreds of sprinters, jumpers and throwers, it has found 68 who are clean. Congratulations, Russia!
Now, the cynical among you might question why anyone should trust Russia on its appeal when it clearly couldn’t be trusted to keep its needles out of athletes’ veins. The answer, of course, is that no one should.
This isn’t a matter of being holier than thou. You can be certain that there will be American Olympians who cheated their way to Rio. But until the United States starts handing out syringes and pills to its athletes, we can say that Russia is in a league of its own.