We have to note that far from being outside the realm of politics or untainted by social pressures, the Olympic movement, like many other high-level international sporting events, has long been the scene of various forms of political interference, corruption, nepotism, racism, sexism and attempts to influence competitive results. Hundreds of examples could be given: the unjust removal of Jim Thorpe’s Olympic medals, the ban on female athletes competing in certain events, the stripping of medals won by Tommie Smith and John Carlos for their Black Power salute at the 1968 Summer Olympics, the infamous US-led boycott of the Moscow Summer Olympics in 1980.
For most of its history, the IOC has been dominated by a small clique of royal family members and wealthy millionaires, often reaching arbitrary and secretive decisions about which athletes should be allowed to compete and which should be punished for violations of doping rules or other regulations. Top US track and field athletes, for example, often avoided punishment despite strong evidence of their use of banned substances. In the latest situation, while Russian athletes have been banned for using meldonium, some non-Russians taking similar medicines have not faced any sanctions.
The IOC has no consistent track record in these matters, leaving its intentions open to question. Given the current political atmosphere of rampant Russophobia in western Europe and North America, the ban against the Russian team certainly aligns with the NATO-US strategy of encircling and isolating Russia and stationing troops and bases along its borders. The current demonization of Russia is a pretext for expanding the new Cold War, and for the vast expansion of military spending by the US and NATO (including Canada). The ban also comes shortly before upcoming presidential elections in Russia, possibly with a view to influencing public opinion.
We also find it strange that the ban has been imposed after Russia has taken important steps in this area, and without any definitive proof about allegations of state-institutional involvement. Despite such accusations, the IOC commission, led by Samuel Schmid, found no confirmation. Not least, we note that the impartiality of some influential western figures involved in the attempt to ban the Russian team is suspect, such as Canada’s Dick Pound, who has a long record of antagonistic attitudes towards the USSR and then Russia.
Russian Prime Minister Medvedev, among other leading public figures in his country, have freely acknowledged that some Russian sports federations did have problems with doping, including at the Sochi Games. Since then, the government has initiated important corrective measures. An independent public anti-doping commission was set up some time ago, and a national plan for fight against doping was approved along with a set of measures to implement this plan. The government has made amendments to the Russian Criminal Code and to the relevant administrative legislation to fight doping, and information and educational programs have been set up to prevent violations by athletes and the personnel of national teams.
These measures have already had a positive impact, and the situation in Russia is now similar to other countries. The recent 1,500 samples taken from Russian athletes were proved to be clean. But the western media campaign has tarred all Russian athletes with the accusations, which stem largely from one individual who has himself committed criminal acts by doping athletes. At the same time, some non-Russian athletes with a range of health problems are allowed to participate in competitions and take various medicines, including those considered to be doping.
The Olympic movement is intended to provide a venue for peaceful sporting competitions at the highest levels of skill, speed and strength. The Communist Party of Canada calls for an end to the wildly exaggerated attacks against Russia’s participation, particularly since that country’s sports programs have been improved sharply in recent years, but also because these attacks are clearly motivated at least in part by pro-imperialist political considerations. Let the athletes of all countries which take part in winter sports come to PyeongChang for free and fair competition!
Communist Party of Canada, Central Executive Committee