The Olympics is the biggest event in world sports and held every four years. There were reports of widespread doping with the official connivance in Russia, and the IOC was expected to take a tough stand on the issue. The IOC took a soft line and on Sunday ordered individual sports federations to decide whether Russian competitors could take part in the games. 

It failed to effect a total ban on Russian competitors.

Why did the IOC finally go soft on Russia? The fact is that Russia does wield considerable clout in the political field and at the meeting delegates from many countries were against a blanket ban on Russia.

IOC and doping scandal

The IOC decision was hailed by the Russians as "objective" while the US anti-Doping Agency ( USADA) said the IOC had failed to demonstrate decisive leadership. Russian sports minister Vitaly Mutko in a statement expressed his gratitude to the IOC.He said" It was objective and taken in the interest of world sport and unity of the Olympic family. We are grateful to the IOC for such a decision".

The IOC probably under Russian pressure refused to allow 800m runner Yulia Stepanova to compete.

The decision was taken by the IOC ethics commission. She had turned whistleblower on doping practices in Russia. The decision to debar Yulia from competing even as a neutral was criticized by the USADA.

On Russia, the IOC was of the opinion that no blanket ban was required, and each Russian athlete must be given the opportunity to rebut the allegations and prove his or her innocence. The decision was in a way a victory for Russia.

The future

The world has awoken to the drug menace in sports to enhance the capability of the athletes. It was going on for a long time and was prevalent in the communist nations earlier like East Germany. Winning medals at the games and other sporting events added to the prestige of the nations and they sometimes officially conducted programs to enhance the capabilities of the athletes. In Russia, this was widespread, and the lid blew off.

Now that the IOC has taken some action, albeit a mild one, there is hope that doping of athletes will go down. One hopes the Russians and other nations like Kenya see the light and desist from such practices.

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