The IOC is wrong: Russia should have been banned from Rio

    The International Olympic Committee (IOC) erred when it did not ban Russia from the upcoming Rio Games. In an obvious side-step the IOC shifted the responsibility to individual international sport federations to deal with athletes who tested positive for performance enhancing drugs on an individual basis even after the McLaren Report (click to download) outlined how the Russians orchestrated a state-sponsored system of cheating. Over the past few days we have seen the result of these deliberations with the announcements trickling out about specific individuals who will not be allowed to participate in Rio.

    The IOC argues that addressing positive drug tests falls under the authority of the sport federations and not the IOC. Technically this is true, however the issue currently facing sport is not simply a matter of catching drugs cheats. It is a matter of of state-sponsored cheating. Russia implemented a state-level system to administer performance enhancers on a national level to its elite athletes.

    This was not merely an athlete or two scheming in the dark about getting away with using performance enhancers. No, this was a country's elite sport system organizing and then conducting the program. This was nothing less than state-sponsored cheating. This the IOC certainly does have control over. And it is cowardice that they shied away from making the decision that many of the IOC members and the rest of the world know that they should have.

    Let's say the IOC did ban Russia. Might there be fallout from such a decision? Almost certainly, but so what? People all over the world -- athletes, coaches, clubs, national organizations, schools, you name it -- use sport as a way to teach fair play, ethical behavior, and role modeling. There may definitely be legal fallout from a decision to ban a country from an Olympics but this issue transcends the legal questions. It's far more an ethical decision than a legal one. An ethical decision that the IOC simply ran away from. If passing the buck were an Olympic event the IOC would have won its first gold medal.

    --------
    Bill Price is the Chief Information Officer for USSA Malaysia.

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