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.

Just Posted

VIDEO: Strong cast tells the story of how justice solves all problems in ‘Measure for Measure’

Plenty of passion with dollops of comedy to leaven the story as Shakespeare Festival continues

Sarah Simpson Column: Good deeds save the day

Is it fair to call it the dog days of summer? I… Continue reading

Driver airlifted after head-on crash on TCH in Duncan Friday

Two people were seriously injured in a head-on crash on the TCH in Duncan yesterday night.

Join the fun at Rotary’s Ogilvie memorial golf tournament Aug. 23

Besides golfing with friends, you are helping fund worthwhile programs

British Columbia Chronicles: New Hope for B.C.’s most historic sawmill town

“New mill, new optimism after years of forestry decline in Port Alberni”—Megan… Continue reading

Fashion Fridays: How to dress and feel powerful

Kim XO, helps to keep you looking good on Fashion Fridays on the Black Press Media Network

Sea-to-Sky Gondola in B.C. likely out of commission until 2020

Sea to Sky Gondola carries between 1,500 and 3,000 people every day during the summer season

It’s snow joke: Up to 30 cm of snow expected to fall in northeastern B.C.

Alaska Highway, Fort Nelson to be hit with August snowstorm, according to Environment Canada

Ferries employees participating in Denman Island cleanup for plastic-shedding ferry

The cleanup comes a few weeks after one organized by residents of the Island

Discussion on grief and loss between Stephen Colbert, Anderson Cooper goes viral

The exchange includes emotional question from Cooper, and outlook on grief as a child

Toronto activist calling on federal parties to nominate more black candidates

Fewer than 20 black Canadians have been nominated so far, including some Liberal MPs seeking re-election

Portland, Oregon, awaits right-wing rally, counter protests

Patriot Prayer’s Joey Gibson surrendered Friday on an arrest warrant for felony rioting

Kraft Heinz brand baby food recalled in B.C. due to possibility of insects

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency says the product should not be consumed

First Nations women finally to be treated equally under Indian Act: Bennett

Canadian Feminist Alliance for International Action thanked the feds

Most Read