Russia's elite sport status is at risk due to Ukraine invasion

Russia spent over $50 billion to host the 2014 Winter Olympics at Sochi. Then, it devised the most complex doping scheme ever created to consolidate its position as a global sporting superpower.

Russia's elite sport status is at risk due to Ukraine invasion

The invasion of Ukraine by the country comes on the heels of another drug scandal at the Beijing Olympics earlier in the month. This could threaten an athletic dynasty that has been marred by deceit and cheating, and frequently countered with only mild pushbackfrom international sports leaders.

A further reckoning would hurt Russia's ability host events in Russia and make it more difficult to dominate international events. It would be a blow to Russia's ability to host events domestically and abroad. It would also compromise the image President Vladimir Putin and his predecessors have worked to create -- that of a prosperous country whose athletes beat international competitors in the games they play.

Edwin Moses, an American gold-medal hurdler, was a key player in sorting out the Russian scandals. He recalled explaining Moscow's view to anti-doping officials.

Moses stated, "One thing that I tried to convey to them was, "You don't get how important sports are for them." "And I'd tell 'em, you don't know how far they're willing go to corrupt it.

Apart from widespread condemnation by Western governments, Russia’s entry into Ukraine was heavily denounced by major sports organizations, including International Olympic Committee.

Many federations including ski, curling, and Formula 1 pulled top events out of Russia. UEFA, the European soccer governing body, was the first to move this spring's Champions League finals from St. Petersburg, to Paris. Russia was banned by the International Biathlon Union. The IOC was the largest group of them all and condemned the invasion.

According to one economics professor, the Champions League final's financial loss could amount to tens of million dollars. This is a fraction of the potential losses Russia may incur from the relocations. He said that money is only a part of what motivates Putin.

Victor A. Matheson, College of the Holy Cross in Worcester Mass. said that "he's in it to get the prestige and power." He enjoys being in control of things."

Russia's position in the international sports community is largely determined by its relationship to the IOC. Although Putin's country was officially banned from the Beijing Games in 2008, Russia still fielded more than 200 athletes as members of the "Russian Olympic Committee", which won 32 medals, the second largest haul at the Games.


Notable was the fact that Putin attended Beijing's Bird's Nest stadium's opening ceremony along with Thomas Bach, IOC leader. It was a display of defiance. Putin attended the opening ceremony at Beijing's Bird's Nest stadium, while the U.S. (and some of its allies) refused to send diplomats to protest China’s human rights record. This also showed how Putin was in sufficient good standing with the IOC for him to be present despite being banned.

Paul Massaro is a senior policy advisor to Congress and works on issues related to international corruption. He stated that Putin thinks Russia will be back at the Olympics in Paris three years from now. But I don't think he fully appreciates the paradigm shift he has made. Although I don't like these words, I think Russia should be banned at this point.

Russian officials have portrayed doping investigations as being politically motivated by the West.

The IOC's recent condemnation against Moscow over Ukraine was focused on the violation of the "Olympic Truce," an U.N.-sanctioned call to world peace that remains in effect until March 20, seven days after the conclusion of the Paralympic Games at Beijing.

Bach would have to change years of precedent regarding his soft treatment of Russia during the country's doping scandals. Russia's future role in international sports will be determined by the steps he takes, if any, to support the IOC's latest show of discontent.

The sordid doping investigation involving Kamila Valieva, a 15-year old Russian figure skater, was potentially a problem for the country. Anti-doping officials didn't announce her positive result until she had won the gold medal in the team competition.

This put Bach in the unusual position of openly critiquing Russia. A move that brought a rebuke back from the Kremlin.

The Olympic movement and international sports have endured much worse from Russia and the Soviet Union. Moses told how he traveled to the Soviet Union in late 1980s, long before anti-doping regulations were globally codified. He wanted to find a drug-fighting deal with Soviets.

Moses stated that "their motive for setting up an (anti-doping lab) was completely different than ours." "We tried to keep doping out of our labs. They wanted to ensure they weren't caught. It was the glory of winning gold medals. They wanted it and the athletes would be national heroes and treasures.

There will be signals about the future of Russian sports, including relocating events.

Linda Helleland is a Norwegian politician and a former vice-president at the World Anti-Doping Agency. She has been a long-time critic of Russia. Next month's events include the World Figure Skating Championships next month, World Cup Soccer qualifying this spring, and the World Track and Field Championships in Oregon in August.

World Athletics has been a pioneer in taking a strong stance against Russian doping since 2015. Russia has only been represented by a few athletes at major championships in recent years, and this is unlikely to change before the summer.

"We are witnessing the brutal acts of the Ukrainian government. Helleland stated that Russia cannot be allowed to continue its crimes without any consequences.

However, the IOC's response to Russia's eligibility to host the 2024 Summer Games in Paris will be the most important test.

Putin's 2014 annexation and full-scale invasion Ukraine occurred immediately after the Winter Olympics. Russia enjoyed success on the field, but it was a long time before its next appearance on the biggest sporting stage.

Massaro stated, "We've been giving Putin a free pass over a decade. So why would Putin think he can get away with it?" "Obviously, the Olympics are part. We are back, and this time he has crossed the Rubicon in a most profound manner."