Opinion: A slap in the face for the IOC | Opinion | DW | 23.08.2016
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Opinion

Opinion: A slap in the face for the IOC

The CAS has upheld the ban on Russian athletes competing at the Paralympics in Rio. This highlights the fact that the IOC squandered its chance to take a strong stand against doping, according to Stefan Nestler.

The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) has upheld a ban on Russia's entire team competing at the Paralympics - a decision that bolsters the International Paralympic Committee's (IPC) stand. The highest-ranking officials in the Paralympics' governing body took the only logical course of action that could be taken in light of the findings of the McLaren Report, which outlined evidence of systematic doping in Russia - with the government involved. If there is clear evidence that a country's entire sporting structure is contaminated by doping, that country's athletes should not be allowed to take part in international competition. This is a long overdue signal from the powers that be in the battle against doping in sports.

No shame

The IPC demonstrated the backbone that the International Olympic Committee (IOC) clearly lacked. Thomas Bach and co. shied away from conflict with Russia, leaving it up to the governing bodies of the individual Olympic sports to decide whether to follow suit with the IAAF and ban Russian athletes from competing in Rio. The result: 285 Russian athletes competed in Rio - and with 56 medals (19 gold, 18 silver, 18 bronze), Russia finished in fourth place in the medal table. The Russian athletes were subjected to jeering by the spectators in Rio; however, neither the athletes nor their officials expressed any sense of shame, or the understanding that something is really wrong in sports in their country.

Nestler Stefan Kommentarbild App

Stefan Nestler

Shrugged shoulders

The same goes for Thomas Bach and the IOC. Instead of being self-critical, the highest-ranking Olympic officials in Rio were entirely self-congratulatory, pretending that everything was great and that there was no fly in the ointment. The Olympic bigwigs didn't even seem to be particularly bothered when IOC board member Pat Hickey of Ireland was arrested on allegations of involvement in a scheme to sell Olympic tickets on the black market.

They probably reacted to the news of the CAS ruling with a similar shrug of the shoulders, just like Vladimir Putin, who probably won't be all that annoyed about it. This is because, with all due respect for the outstanding achievements of athletes who are physically challenged, the Paralympics simply don't enjoy the level of awareness among the general public or the standing that the Olympics do - not by a long shot.

Despite this fact, the CAS ruling is a slap in the face for the IOC, because it shows what could have been had Thomas Bach and his executive committee had the backbone to follow their high-minded words about a no-tolerance policy in the battle against doping with real action.

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