Editorial: Russia’s Olympic ban enough punishment?

In some ways, it doesn’t feel like enough.

Is the punishment severe enough?

There is an interesting split in opinion about the International Olympic Committee’s decision, announced this week, to ban the Russian team from the upcoming winter games in South Korea.

The IOC made the decision because of Russia’s rampant doping of athletes at the 2014 Sochi Olympics, though Russian President Vladimir Putin continues to deny there was a state-sponsored effort by the home country to cheat.

But the IOC made the ban less impactful by offering the carrot that Russian athletes who prove they are clean will still be able to compete under a neutral flag. Putin gave his blessing, too, for the country’s athletes to take part in this fashion.

So is it really a ban, or much punishment, if the country’s athletes, whom everyone watching will still know are Russian, just can’t wear their team jerseys, wave their flag, and hear their country’s anthem, should they wind up on the podium?

In some ways, it doesn’t feel like enough. Not when one considers the athletes who had their moments of glory stolen by cheaters. Medals awarded years after the fact just aren’t the same. Nor are the opportunities those medals can bring athletes, many of whom often languish in little-recognized sports that are expensive to pursue, with a chance at the limelight only every four years.

Just ask Canada’s Beckie Scott, who has become an anti-doping advocate in the years since her 2002 Olympic gold medal. Gold, you ask? Yes, but originally, she was only awarded the bronze medal. When it was discovered the two athletes who finished ahead of her were doping, she was elevated first to silver, then gold. But that was not until 2004. She was the first North American woman to win an Olympic medal of any colour in cross-country skiing. Imagine if she could have stood on the top spot on the podium in 2002 for her feat.

Of course athletes from other countries, including Canada (remember the infamous Ben Johnson?), have been caught doping over the years, but what makes the case of Russia different is the shear size and scale of the cheating.

Some argue that the IOC has failed to take doping seriously enough for years, so why now? We say to that, better late than never.

As for allowing Russians to compete if they prove to be clean, well, that seems only fair in the end. We shouldn’t punish the innocent, after all.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Lee Porteous will be one of the performers at the Duncan Showroom’s storytelling event later this month. (Photo Submitted)
Duncan Showroom hosts storytellers series

Monthly shows will be broadcast live on YouTube

A freight train makes its way over the Black Bridge in Duncan, back when rail was still running on the E&N corridor. A new survey from Island Corridor Foundation found that there is still a large amount of support for getting trains up and running again. (Citizen file)
Big support for rail on Vancouver Island, survey finds

80 per cent of survey respondents believe a modern and revitalized rail system should be funded

Premier John Horgan and Rob Douglas, BC NDP candidate for Cowichan Valley, meet with Cowichan First Nation elders, as they demonstrate spearfishing along the river. (Submitted)
Horgan fishes with Cowichan elders at Cowichan Valley campaign stop

B.C. premier talks mental health and addictions, universal income

Will Arquiett had 30 points in 53 games with the Caps last season. (Citizen file)
Cowichan Capitals continue making trades

Four players added in return for Arquiett and Morgan

“The area’s youth Scouting commissioner Brian Crockett, at the campground on the Bald Mountain Peninsula’s Camp Woodlands Scout/Guide Camp, which saw overnight campers and international radio communication, Saturday, Oct. 16.” (Lake Cowichan Gazette, Oct. 20, 2010/Tyler Clarke photo)
Lake Flashback: Scouting return, fish biting, and election looms

Remember these stories from Cowichan Lake?

A passer-by walks past a COVID-19 testing clinic in Montreal, Friday, Oct. 16, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Canada ‘yet to see’ deaths due to recent COVID surge as cases hit 200,000

Much of the increase in case numbers can be attributed to Ontario and Quebec

Police confirm human remains were found in a recycling bin in Vancouver on Oct. 18, 2020. (Black Press Media file photo)
Human remains found in recycling bin floating near Vancouver beach

Police asking nearby residents to see if their recycling bin has gone missing

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

(File photo)
RCMP: Two men face charges in reported Parksville fatal hit-and-run

Investigation into man’s death began in August of 2019

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

B.C. Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson visits a North Vancouver daycare to announce his party’s election promises for child care, Oct. 9, 2020. (B.C. Liberal Party video)
B.C. parties pitch costly child care programs in pandemic

B.C. Liberals say they’ll deliver on NDP’s $10-a-day promise for lower-income families

A B.C. man decided to create a website to help people find family doctors accepting patients. Because Victoria is considered high-demand, clinic openings can’t be posted publicly. (Unsplash)
Vancouver Island man starts website that connects B.C. residents with doctors

Nanaimo man started project to help people find family physicians accepting patients

Steven Michael Bacon pleaded not guilty to a charge of first-degree murder of Nanaimo teen Makayla Chang. (Photos submitted)
Accused pleads not guilty in Nanaimo teen’s 2017 murder

Steven Bacon appeared in Nanaimo court Monday via video link from Thunder Bay

Most Read