Russian Winter Olympic Team, Heads Of State Banned From 2018 Winter Olympics

Skier in mountains, prepared piste and sunny dayThe winter Olympic games will take place in Pyeongchang, South Korea in 2018, but this time Russia isn’t invited.

In fact, all Russian government officials have been banned from attending the winter Olympics by the International Olympic Committee (I.O.C.) due to widespread doping, allegedly backed by the state. Though Russia as a team will not be allowed, nor will the Russian flag or national anthem make an appearance, select athletes that pass intensive drug screenings will be allowed to compete, but they must do so wearing neutral uniforms.

The New York Times reports I.O.C. president Thomas Bach saying, “This decision should draw a line under this damaging episode.”

This breach of Olympic rules and respect goes far beyond typical doping and steroid use. At the last winter Olympics in Sochi, it came to light that more than 100 urine samples intended for drug testing were tampered with by the sport’s ministry of Russia.

In addition to the 2018 ban, the Russian Olympic Committee faces a $15 million fine.

Ex-Russian anti-doping agency employee Vitaly Stepanov wrote about this scandal, “The world knows that hundreds of Olympic dreams have been stolen by the doping system in the country where I was born.”

For the 36 million children who play team sports every year, this scandal is sure to strike a moral chord. Learning that cheaters never prosper from a young age could be one of many reasons behind the I.O.C.’s decision.

Pursuing athletic excellence is something that every active individual can understand, but at what point does winning, and not enjoying the sport itself, become the goal?

You will find the answer, sort of, when you look at skateboarding. Of the 11 million people who claim they regularly skate, drug use is among the most prevalent of any sport. This includes recreational drugs as well as performance enhancers. The difference here is that professional skate competitions are more or less okay with performance enhancement because skate culture is fine with it as well.

It’s been proposed many times that the apathy towards, or active engagement with drugs in the skate competition community, stems from the realization that skating is difficult, and performance-enhancing substance will likely do little to improve the skills required to compete at such a high level.

Perhaps then, the urge to win at all costs is a common thread among sporting enterprises. The difference is that bi-athletes and downhill skiers have much more to gain than skaters, and much more to lose.

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