Popov: Russia should refuse to participate in the 2016 Rio Olympics


July 24, 2016 – 

By Eduard Popov for Fort Russ

Translated by J. Arnoldski

On Sunday, several reports appeared confirming that the Russian national team will participate in the summer Olympic games in Rio de Janeiro. Most noteworthy of all is the decision of the International Olympic Committee, which found insufficient grounds for barring the Russian team from the games. The IOC has washed its hands after finding no formal reasons to disqualify the entire Olympic committee of Russia and shifted the responsibility to the international federation. 

The first victims have already become known: light athletic competitors will not be allowed to play in the Olympics. The two-time Olympic champion Elena Isinbayeva gave an interview on this question in which she expressed the opinion that no one could protect her rights. The rest of the athletes who have been more fortunate, however, still cannot feel completely secure. The example of what happened to light athletics could be followed by others. Even those athletes who will compete in Rio de Janeiro will be intimidated with sudden doping checks and there should be no doubt that this nervousness will have a negative impact on the psychological state and performance of these athletes. 

Thus, WADA’s provocation has still worked out perfectly even though no evidence that a genuine state doping program is in operation in Russia could be heard in the McLaren’s speech. The only “evidence” is the testimony of the former official Rodchenkov who is implicated in corruption. Nevertheless, the WADA commission’s goal has been achieved. 

I am no less outraged than most Russians by the unsportsmanlike conduct of Western sports circles. But even greater resentment is caused by the behavior of my compatriot sports officials.

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The persecution of the Russian Olympic team is a quite expected development. This is a continuation of the anti-Russian sanctions on the sporting field. But as it has turned out, Russia’s senior sport officials have been psychologically and professionally unprepared for this. Russia allocates enormous amounts of money for Olympic sports, more than a little of which is spent on maintaining officials. This layer is Russia’s Achilles heel. The unprofessionalism, incompetence, and indifference to the results of this affair fully characterize this part of the system. Isinbayeva’s bitter words are the best illustration of the behavior of Minister Mutko and the numerous officials of the sports ministry. No professional jurists capable of challenging the politicized findings of McLaren and WADA are to be found in this department. They couldn’t even predict such attacks on the Olympic team.

Therefore, both Western politicians and our own sports officials subordinate to Mutko are to blame for Russia’s semi-disqualified participation in the Olympics in Rio. The situation surrounding Russia’s participation in the 2016 Olympic Games is, moreover, a display of the overall deplorable situation. Numerous officials in various ministries and their corruption, incompetence, and indifference are harming Russia far more than Western sanctions. For sure, Russian Sports Minister Mutko will present the IOC’s decision as his own victory. Russia has been let in to the Olympics – this is a victory! The fact that Elena Isibnayeva and other light athletes will not participate doesn’t bother officials.

I believe that the Russian team should refuse to participate in the Olympics in Rio out of solidarity with their fellow athletes and for the dignity of the country. This would strike a blow at the American WADA which is pursuing anti-Russian objectives.

It is obvious that the attack on the Russian team will not cease following the announcement of the IOC’s decision. It is also obvious that the West will prepare attacks in other areas in which Russia excels. For example, the arms trade, the music scene, or media. These Western attacks’ main allies will be such Russian bureaucrats. 

The Russian leadership and the leadership of every ministry need to learn the obvious truth that a brutal war is being waged against Russia. We must reject complacency and incompetence and accept the brutal rules of the game. I want to believe that Russia’s present defeat will be followed by proper conclusions and that Minister Mutko will be dismissed. Then such lessons will be learned by other high-ranking officials and the leaders of various departments. Otherwise, Russia will not be able to win the war that it didn’t start. 

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