The Situation Room – Russian athletes competing under ‘neutral flag’ is laughable

Mac Olsen

The politics of Olympic competition took a dramatic turn last week.

The International Olympic Committee announced on Dec. 5 that Russia, as a country, has been banned from participating in the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea.

This is due to alleged widespread doping within the Russian Olympic athlete community. The IOC conducted an investigation into the issue and made its decision to ban Russia following an intense debate.

However, individual Russian athletes that can prove they are free of doping will be allowed to participate under a “neutral flag.”

But how does the IOC define “neutral flag?” What does it use for parameters?

The very idea is laughable. The only way I can see that working is if they go to Antarctica and take over a piece of ice there and raise their own flag over it.

But the Summer Olympics and Winter Olympics are about nations bringing forward their best athletes to compete.

If the legitimate Russian athletes compete in PyeongChang, and they win medals, what embarrassment will they suffer knowing that their national flag is not part of the three flags that are raised following their medals being presented?

I liken that to an NHL team being kicked out of their home city for scandal, but being allowed to play in the Stanley Cup Finals and winning. However, it would be an empty victory because they can’t share it with their home fans.

At the same time, I’m not condoning or sympathizing with Russian Olympic athletes who get caught doping.

The Russian government also bears responsibility for monitoring and reprimanding its Olympic athletes for doping.

And if Russia chooses not to allow its dope-free athletes to participate in PyeongChang, then this action can be likened to Nikita Kruschev’s foolish grandstanding at the United Nations in 1961. They would be shown as a gorilla beating its chest and acting like a spoiled child.

Certainly, doping may be prevalent among many Russian athletes. But they aren’t the only ones who’ve been caught doing it.

Canada knows well the heartbreak and disappointment of having one of their Olympic athlete’s medals revoked.

Ben Johnson had his gold medal stripped at the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul, South Korea, after he tested positive for steroid use.

Yes, that scandal was nearly 30 years ago. Why bring it up now? Because it shows that the IOC must remain vigilant to doping and steroid use the world over.

Certainly, the ban on Russia as a nation from participating in the Winter Olympics should send a clear message to other nations facing the same issue. There is zero-tolerance for doping/steroid use. They have to be put on notice, they could befall the same fate as Russia, if they don’t clean up their act.

As for the Russian athletes who are dope free, let them compete under their national flag. It’s only fair, after all.

So, let the Olympic Games begin soon!

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