Editorial: Ban on Russia elevates Olympics

Now that Russia’s Olympic team has been banned from participating in the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, Canadians may be tempted to tune out entirely.

After all, these Olympics will lack the powerhouse Russians who customarily give our athletes among the toughest runs for Olympic glory. The absence of such vaunted rivals may appear to devalue the spectacle and worth of these Games — along with the much-lamented absence of Connor McDavid and other Canadian NHLers skating for their country.

But far from diminishing the Olympics, the unprecedented punishment meted out to Russia this week will enhance and strengthen the world’s most prestigious sporting event. The slag of corruption and deceit long tainting Olympic gold, silver and bronze has finally been held to a purifying flame.

On Tuesday, the International Olympic Committee barred the Russian Olympic Committee from attending the Winter Games. The Russian flag will not be displayed nor its anthem played. As a concession, individual Russian athletes found to be clean may compete under a neutral flag.

The suspension is a just penalty for a nation that engineered a systemic, state-sponsored and publicly funded doping program for hundreds of its athletes over at least a decade. It’s also an unexpected one; the same Olympic bureaucrats played it safe at the Rio de Janeiro Summer Games by leaving it up to individual sports federations to decide which Russian athletes could compete on a case-by-case basis. It was passing the buck on an Olympic scale.

Making these Games even more remarkable: a special ceremony will award medals retroactively to legitimate winners from Sochi after 25 Russians were disqualified.

As a result of the IOC’s newfound spine, sports fans may be treated to the purest and most honest Olympics in decades. Of course, all sporting events, including these Games, will still be afflicted with incidents …read more

Source:: Edmonton Journal

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