Russia booted from the Winter Olympics because of their 'extensive' doping program

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Published by: Robert Laurie on Wednesday December 06th, 2017

Fair, but still a bummer.                                                                                                   

I'm a huge winter sports junkie.  I love skiing and snowboarding, played hockey growing up, spent winters snowmobiling as a kid, and still get excited every time the first snow hits our house.  Needless to say, the Winter Olympics are a big deal around here. Despite NBC's terrible coverage, every four years they run on a nigh-endless loop in the man cave.

So, I must admit I'm a little bummed out to learn that Russia has been banned from this February's games.

Oh sure, they cheat and they deserve their punishment. Like Harvey Weinstein's groping, the Russian doping program has been a well-known Olympic fixture since the height of the Soviet era.  But they were the bad guys.  And somehow, despite their drugs, their insatiable medal-lust, and the pressure placed on their athletes by their communist overlords, we still managed to eke out victories like this...

Now, they've been given the boot.  Like Superman without Lex Luthor, Batman without The Joker, or Donald Trump without ...Donald Trump, we will be heading to the 2018 Winter Games without our Number 1 adversary.

From the New York Times:

Russia’s Olympic team has been barred from the 2018 Winter Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea. The country’s government officials are forbidden to attend, its flag will not be displayed at the opening ceremony and its anthem will not sound.

Any athletes from Russia who receive special dispensation to compete will do so as individuals wearing a neutral uniform, and the official record books will forever show that Russia won zero medals.

That was the punishment issued Tuesday to the proud sports juggernaut that has long used the Olympics as a show of global force but was exposed for systematic doping in previously unfathomable ways. The International Olympic Committee, after completing its own prolonged investigations that reiterated what had been known for more than a year, handed Russia penalties for doping so severe they were without precedent in Olympics history.

The ruling was the final confirmation that the nation was guilty of executing an extensive state-backed doping program. The scheme was rivaled perhaps only by the notorious program conducted by East Germany throughout the 1960s, ’70s and ’80s.

...Thomas Bach, president of I.O.C., has said he was perturbed not only by Russia’s widespread cheating but by how it had been accomplished: by corrupting the Olympic laboratory that handled drug testing at the Games, and on orders from Russia’s own Olympic officials.

Now everyone is watching and waiting to see what Russia will do.  Will they field a team of drug-free "neutrals?"  Will they boycott the games completely?  No one is entirely sure.  Russian officials say they will "seriously analyze" the situtaion and make a decision.

I know that, in the spirit of the Olympics, I'm supposed to say "good riddance."  I'm supposed to be happy that the cheaters have been kicked to the curb and the competition will be - at least a little bit - more legitimate.

I will, of course, still be watching. But I can't help feeling like the games have lost something at the same time.

...Even if it is just the "red menace" posed by a roided-up Ivan.

Rooting against Canada just isn't the same.

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