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July 28, 2016 No.
6548

Putin Meets With Russia's Olympic Team Ahead Of Rio 2016: 'This Campaign That Targets Our Country's Athletes Includes The Use Of Notorious Double Standards'

On June 27, 2016, Russian President Vladimir Putin met with Russia's Olympic Team. More than 100 Russian athletes took part in the meeting, both those who will compete in the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, which get under way on 5 August, and those who were banned from taking part, and more than 40 coaches, doctors, and other specialists accompanying the team.

On July 18, the World Anti-Doping Agency's website published the "McLaren Independent Investigations Report into Sochi Allegations." The 103-page report, released by Canadian law Professor Richard H. McLaren, establishes "whether there had been manipulation of the doping control process during the 2014 Sochi Olympic and Paralympic Games, including but not limited to, acts of tampering with the samples within the WADA-accredited satellite laboratory in Sochi (Sochi laboratory) that was established for the Games." The report states the following: "The Moscow Laboratory operated, for the protection of doped Russian athletes, within a State-dictated failsafe system...The Sochi Laboratory operated a unique sample swapping methodology to enable doped Russian athletes to compete at the Games. The [Russian] Ministry of Sport directed, controlled and oversaw the manipulation of athlete's analytical results or sample swapping, with the active participation and assistance of the [Federal Security Service] FSB, [the Center of Sports Preparation of National Teams of Russia] CSP, and both Moscow and Sochi Laboratories."

Two hours after the WADA report's release, Putin fired back, stating that the WADA report was politicized. Putin said: "Recent events and the tense atmosphere that has formed around international sport and the Olympic movement involuntarily recall the situation in the early 1980s. Back then, many Western countries, citing the deployment of Soviet troops in Afghanistan, boycotted the Moscow Olympics. Four years later, the Soviet Union retaliated by boycotting the Los Angeles Olympics, using the pretext of an allegedly insufficient level of security for the Soviet team. The result was that many Soviet and American athletes and athletes from other countries were caught up in this campaign of reciprocal boycotts and lost the chance to add their names to world sporting history...Today, we see a dangerous return to this policy of letting politics interfere with sport...Today, so-called doping scandals' are the method used, attempts to apply sanctions for detected cases of doping to all athletes, including those who are 'clean', supposedly to protect their interests...

"What is behind this haste? Is it an attempt to create the needed media atmosphere and apply pressure? We have the impression that the USADA experts had access to what is an unpublished report at the very least, and have set its tone and even its content themselves. If this is the case, one country's national organization is again trying to dictate its will to the entire world sports community."[1]

On July 21, the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) released a statement on its decisions in the arbitrations between the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC), a number of Russian athletes and the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF). The statement outlines: "The CAS has dismissed both the request for arbitration filed by the ROC and 68 Claimant Athletes, and the appeal filed by 67 of the same athletes against the IAAF decision to consider them as ineligible for the Olympic Games in Rio...The CAS Panel confirmed that the ROC is not entitled to nominate Russian track and field athletes to compete at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games considering that they are not eligible to participate under the IAAF competition rules, in accordance with the Olympic Charter. However, the ROC is entitled to enter as representatives of the Russian Federation in the Rio 2016 Olympic Games the Russian track and field athletes who fulfill the criteria and are eligible to compete..."

The denouement to this story came in a decision by the IOC to delegate the decision to the various sports federations, who can rule to allow individual Russian athletes to compete provided they have clean records and have passed testing by "reliable" international anti-doping bodies. This means the Russian flag will fly at the games and the blanket ban has been rescinded.[2] Russia's Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko, who has been declared a persona non grata at the games, said that the IOC has made a considered decision "in the interests of international sport." Russia's Rhythmic Gymnastics Federation head Irina Viner-Usmanova called the ruling "wise," and thanked the IOC's president, Thomas Bach, for being "a true athlete, Olympian and champion. He knows how it feels to train and then not compete."[3] However, the final line-up of Russian Olympic team will be announced on 30-31 July, according to the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC).

 

The following is Putin's speech before the Russia's Olympic Team.[4] The event also witnessed an intervention by excluded athlete Yelena Isinbayeva, a two-time Olympic pole-vaulting champion, who holds 28 world records in the event and was awarded the title of Merited Master of Sport of Russia. She implored Putin to protect Russian athletes in the face of this disregard for the law.

 
Vitaly Podvitsky, Sputniknews.com, July 21, 2016.

On July 21, the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) ruled against Russian athletes, striking down their attempt to repeal a rule banning athletes from the country from international athletics. As a result the Russian athletic team may be banned from the 2016 Summer Olympics. In the cartoon, the Russian athlete is being stopped by politics that interfered with sport.

Putin: 'Short-Sighted Politicians Have Started Meddling In Sport Too'

Vladimir Putin: "It is now an excellent and well-established tradition to meet with the Russian team before they leave to take part in the Olympics. On the eve of such an important sports event, it is indeed essential to have the country's moral support and solidarity, to receive our good words and feelings and know that the whole country is behind you and with you all the way. The farewell ceremony of the national Olympic team is different this year. You know what I am talking about. I will say a few words on this now.

"All of you here trained long and hard over the last four years to get ready for this big event, and you all deserved the right to defend Russia's sporting honor. Sadly, not all of you will have the chance to make your dreams come true in Rio.

"We see that short-sighted politicians have started meddling in sport too, though sport was supposed to bring peoples together and smooth over the differences between countries. This current situation has gone beyond the legal pale now and has even gone beyond the bounds of common sense.

"This campaign that targets our country's athletes includes the use of notorious double standards and the principle of collective responsibility, or, as was said, 'reversal of the presumption of innocence,' which is not compatible with sport and not compatible with justice and basic legal norms in general. We get the impression that those who speak this way do not even understand what they are saying.

"Not only have many of our athletes suffered from these allegations made against them for which - I want to stress - there is not the slightest concrete evidence, but this has dealt a blow to global sport in general and to the Olympic Games.

"Everyone realizes, after all, that the absence of Russian athletes, who are leaders in many sports disciplines, will reduce significantly the level of competition and thus take some of the thrill and interest out of the upcoming Games. I want to assure you that we here in Russia will look at our athletes who are leaders in their disciplines as Olympic champions with all the administrative and material consequences this entails

 


Russian President Vladimir Putin at the meeting with Russia's Olympic Team (Kremlin.ru, July 27, 2016)

Putin: 'Demands And Oversight Differ For Different Countries' Athletes'

"The International Olympic Committee, as you know, despite the tremendous pressure it was under and the very negative media environment that was created as if on command, did not bring division into the Olympic movement and left it up to the international federations in the different sports to decide whether or not to allow athletes to participate. True, with only days remaining before the Games begin, we still do not know for sure how many of our athletes will go to Rio, and this uncertainty also has an impact on their training and preparedness, of course.

"We cannot agree with the blanket disqualification of our track and field athletes who have, I want to stress, an absolutely clean doping record. We will not and cannot accept this kind of open discrimination. This goes completely against the Olympic movement's principles. But we will fight for justice exclusively through legal means and will act in strict accordance with the Olympic Charter. I am sure the Russian Olympic Committee will continue to defend our athletes' interests.

"Russia will prove through its acts its commitment to the principles of clean and fair competition and our readiness for genuine partnership with the international sports community to combat doping. We will not only ensure that all involved in doping scandals are held accountable, no matter what their rank and services, but, most importantly, will establish an effective system to prevent doping in sport in accordance with the national plan for preventing doping, which we are already working on now...

"Let's be frank: all countries encounter problems with doping, but we sometimes have the impression that demands and oversight differ for different countries' athletes. It is as if someone wants to divide sportspeople into 'ours' and 'theirs' and obtain competitive advantages that do not conform with the principle of fair competition...We must avoid discrimination and exclude all possibility of abuse, bias and political manipulation. These are the tasks before the international sports community today. We must also work in solidarity with our colleagues. I am sure that this is in the interests of not only Russia but of sport throughout the world.

"Friends, you know that despite the attempts to cast a shadow on Russia's athletes and deprive them of the right to take part in the Olympics, millions of fans from many different countries - I stress this - and from Russia itself, of course, will be supporting our team with all sincerity. Your greatest support has and will come from Russia, of course, and I am sure that you feel this. I am speaking of our 'clean' athletes who have been unfairly deprived of the right to take part in competition, and of those who will take part in this sports event...

"Those who go to Rio will not have an easy time, of course, but the Russian character has a marvelous and important trait: difficulties only make us stronger, unite us, waken colossal strength of spirit in us and open the road to the most arduous summits..."

Yelena Isinbayeva: 'Mr. President, We Ask You And Request Directly That You Protect Us In The Face Of This Disregard For The Law'

Putin with With Yelena Isinbayeva, two-time Olympic champion, holder of the Merited Master of Sport of Russia title, and holder of 28 world records in pole vaulting. (Kremlin.ru, July 27, 2016)

Yelena Isinbayeva: "Thank you very much for this great support you have given us. It really is very important because... because it is genuinely very important. Track and field is in the most difficult situation right now. We have been banned from the competition without proof, in insolent and primitive fashion, and without any chance to defend ourselves and fight for our right to take part in the Olympics. This is upsetting, of course, and unpleasant, all the more so that this was to have been the first Olympics for some of us, and for others the last in their professional career.

"Of course, like everyone here, we put in four years of hard work for this, spared no effort, strove for results, and had nearly reached the final straight when we had our dream stolen from us. They took from us the goal that had kept us going and motivated us to keep pushing our own limits every day.

"But never mind, we are strong and we are not alone. Others here with us today will not go to the Olympics because we are paying for the mistakes of less responsible athletes who broke the rules, and today we are answering collectively for this. We have encountered such disregard for the law today, such unfairness and arbitrariness from some people in international sport, who figured they could do as they please and change the rules only a month before this important event, and we do not know what will happen next and what reception we will have at the Olympics.

"I want to say that we are all one team, we are all one great nation, and this situation will only make us more united. You must show the best of your abilities, for yourselves, and for all of us. You can do it; we believe in you...Mr. President, we ask you and request directly that you protect us in the face of this disregard for the law. "We truly need your support and advice today because, sadly, the athletes are defenseless right now. We want to and can, but no one is hearing our voice, and we cannot take any real measures ourselves. We love and believe in you very much and thank you for your support. We must punish all who have had a part in this."

 

Endnotes: 

 

[1] Kremlin.ru, July 18, 2016.

[2] Rt.com, July 24, 2016.

[3] Rt.com, July 25, 2016.

[4] Kremlin.ru, July 27, 2016.