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The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has decided not to serve Russia with a blanket ban from the upcoming Rio Olympics (they start 5 August). This, despite the finding of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) that wide-spread doping was (is) being conducted in Russian sport with the implicit knowledge and cooperation of the Russian government and sports authorities. I am flabbergasted that the IOC has been so spineless.

Doping is ruining sport. In almost any event which involves a test of speed or endurance or strength, one can only wonder how clean a winning athlete is. When all eight of the athletes who started the 1988 mens’ 100 metres sprint were later found guilty of having taken performance enhancing substances at some point, and when a two-times drugs cheat like Justin Gatlan is still allowed to compete in athletics, the world of sport is in serious denial if it thinks that it is not in crisis.

Thankfully the IAAF has been a bit more bold; Russia is banned from competing in the athletics (track and field) at the Rio games. Individual athletes can, as I understand it, make an appeal against this blanket ban if they feel they can prove that they are and have been clean. The IOC should have done the same thing. By not doing so they have ducked the issue, in my opinion.

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Russia has escaped a blanket ban by the IOC from the Rio Olympics.

For me it is very sad when one watches the Olympic Games, one of the highlights of the sporting calendar, and one wonders how many of the athletes in each final are clean, and how many have managed to beat the testing system. Russia has been shown to have a state-sanctioned doping system, the evidence gathered by the WADA investigation is overwhelming. For that, Russia should be banned from the Olympics. No ifs or buts. An outright ban, until it can be shown to have cleaned up its act. The IOC has missed a big opportunity here to send out a clear message that doping should not be tolerated in sport.

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