Russians avoid blanket Olympic ban

By The Rex Factor

One of the most entertaining national anthems in the world can still potentially be heard in Rio starting in less than two weeks.

The Soviet Union’s national anthem was written during World War II and even though the country was dissolved in 1991, the Russian Federation continues to use the melody. It was made popular stateside during the movie “Rocky IV” when Rocky Balboa took down Russian Ivan Drago on a Christmas night in Moscow.

When an individual or team wins a gold medal during the Olympics, the national anthem is played during the medal ceremony for that particular event.

The International Olympic Committee announced on Sunday that there is not going to be a complete ban on Russian athletes from the games for the country’s doping scandal. The Russian anthem will still be heard in various sports – but not track & field, where the entire team was banished after losing an appeal earlier in the week. The sport’s governing body, IAAF, made the initial decision.

The Russians allegedly hid hundreds of failed drug tests over several years and swapped samples from doped-up athletes for clean ones during the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.

The World Anti-Doping Agency and other anti-doping bodies had originally recommended that all Russian Olympians be barred from competing. Not too surprisingly, the IOC is allowing individual sports federations decide whether to allow them to compete in their respective events. The IOC had said earlier they wanted to find a balance between “collective punishment” and “individual justice”.

The IOC has said it will deny any Russian entrants that do not meet the requirements set out by the individual federations in each sport. The federations have the authority, under their own respective rules, to deny Russian teams as a whole to compete. The seven Russian Olympic tennis players will compete, it was announced Sunday.

The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency came out with a statement shortly after the IOC’s announcement, with CEO Travis T. Tygart releasing some notable quotes.

The release said, among other things, “The IOC has refused to take decisive leadership. The decision… is a significant blow to the rights of clean athletes.

“The IOC has stated before that they believe anti-doping should be wholly independent, and that is in part why it is so frustrating … they would pass the baton to sports federations who may lack the adequate expertise or collective will to appropriately address the situation.”

Whistle-blower Yuliya Stepanova will not participate in the Olympics, which has sparked a whole different controversy.

Russia has admitted to some of the violations by its coaches and athletes, but denies that the government was involved. State media have said this is a political vendetta led by the United States. They even went as far as posting pictures on the television of American sprinters Tyson Gay and Justin Gatlin being permitted to compete in Rio while posting two of their own who have not been proven guilty. Gay and Gatlin have both been caught doping in previous years.

The fencing venue might be the place to be to watch a Russian win gold. Sofiya Velikaya was favored to win gold in the women’s sabre in London but lost in the final. She’ll be among the favorites in Rio.

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