Scottish Daily Mail

Slap on wrist an in­sult to clean ath­letes


RIGHT here last week, it was sug­gested that prag­ma­tism would over­ride the purists when it comes to rid­ding ath­let­ics of dop­ing. And so the half-hearted ‘pro­vi­sional sus­pen­sion’ of Rus­sia from in­ter­na­tional com­pe­ti­tion, a ban that could con­ve­niently be lifted in time for the Olympic Games now a mat­ter of months away, came as no great shock. The IAAF and, by ex­ten­sion, the IOC are ter­ri­fied of a boy­cott un­der­min­ing the global ap­peal of the sum­mer Games, as well as just a lit­tle scared of be­ing sued by the clean Rus­sian ath­letes who would be un­fairly struck down as part of this col­lec­tive pun­ish­ment. In their night­mare sce­nario, the Rus­sians — plus a couple of bid­dable for­mer satel­lite states re­liant on oil, gas and not be­ing in­vaded — would spend the sum­mer sit­ting at home howl­ing with out­rage ev­ery time some ath­lete from China, the USA or, heaven for­bid, the UK failed a drugs test. Offering Rus­sian ath­let­ics a lifting of the ban pro­vid­ing they com­ply with cer­tain new cri­te­ria, how­ever, feels like let­ting the cheats get away with a slap on the wrist. Pro­vided you prom­ise to be good this time, we’ll let you back in. But you’ve got to prom­ise, now ... In con­ver­sa­tion with sev­eral ath­letes and coaches last week, there was wide­spread sup­port for a last­ing and in­flex­i­ble ban on an en­tire na­tion. If that meant Rus­sian track and field com­peti­tors miss­ing the Olympics, well, tough. The clean ath­letes, the men and women ris­ing be­fore dawn to put in the hard miles be­cause they love their sport, do not want to be gov­erned by a rul­ing body that treats in­sti­tu­tion­alised dop­ing as a re­gret­table over­sight, some­thing to pro­voke plenty of blus­ter — but quickly over­looked in the name of ex­pe­di­ency, pro­vided the wrong ’uns make a good pub­lic show of do­ing the right thing.

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