What Research Says About Russian Drug Cheats at Olympics

Russia will compete under a different moniker for the second consecutive Olympic Games. During the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Games, the nation was known as the Olympic Athletes from Russia (OAR), and for the 2021 Tokyo Games, they will be recognized as the ROC. Why isn’t Russia allowed to compete under its national flag and name? Everything stems from a doping scandal that has tarnished the country since 2015 and resulted in a ban from Olympic competitions. Here’s where you should start and stop thinking about the ROC, especially why Russian athletes are still allowed to compete in the Olympics despite the country being banned.

What does ROC stand for?

The acronym ROC stands for “Russian Olympic Committee.” Russian athletes will compete under this banner and assignment during the 2021 Tokyo Olympics and the 2022 Beijing Olympics.

Why athletes aren’t competing under the Russian flag

Because of a rule imposed by the World Anti-Doping Agency, competitors are not competing under the Russian flag (WADA). Russia was initially barred from Olympic competition for an indefinite period, but that ban was reduced to two years in late 2020. Competitors who were not involved in the Russian doping scandal are still ready to compete in the Olympic rivalry throughout those two years. That is why 335 Russians have qualified for the 2021 Olympics.

Whatever the case may be, they must do it as neutrals.

As a result, they will not compete under the Russian flag, nor will the Russian national anthem be played throughout the Olympics. They will, in any event, wear regalia that combines the many colours of the nation’s flag, which will almost likely disappoint WADA. “We at WADA remain disillusioned that [the Court of Arbitration for Sport] has reduced the level of approvals from four to two years, and that CAS allows them to go after Russian competitors with the shades of the banner in their garbs,” WADA President Witold Baka said.

What did these authorities do then?

The accreditation of Russia’s anti-doping lab was terminated in 2015 after the allegations were made public. The IOC removed 111 competitors from Russia’s 389-part unforeseen for the Rio Olympics after the starting tests, including the whole Olympic-style events group. The IOC proposed a total embargo on Russia’s participation in the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, in response to a more serious proposal. Finally, 168 participants competed for thanks to unique administrations from global organizations. Regardless, the Russian Olympic Committee was barred from attending the event, and the country’s flag was not shown authoritatively in any of the venues. Russian athletes had to wear neutral clothing with the words “Olympic Athlete from Russia” inscribed.

What does the ‘ban’ effectively mean?

The boycott isn’t complete, and 335 Russian athletes compete in Tokyo under the moniker ROC, which stands for Russian Olympic Committee, the organization that sends Russian athletes to all Olympic Games. Essentially, the ‘discipline’ entails refraining from using Russia’s name, flag, or public hymn of loyalty.

“We at WADA remain perplexed that CAS has reduced the number of assents from four to two years and that CAS authorizes them to seek Russian rivals with the colours of the banner in the regalia,” WADA President Witold Baka told USA Today about the issue.

The ROC players are simply those who have had the opportunity to show that they were not part of the doping scheme. “All open presentations of the association’s member name shall use the abbreviation ‘ROC,’ not the whole name “Russian Olympic Committee,” according to the IOC.

So, all Russian athletes are allowed to compete?

Not all of them, at least. Only the ones with the word “clean” in the title. Since WADA exposed the scheme, several Russian athletes and athletes from other countries have been charged with doping. When experts have shown that a competitor used prohibited substances, that competitor has been suspended. Furthermore, if they are broken, they will be unable to compete in the Olympics.

According to anti-doping experts, the problem is that the CAS decision shifted the burden of proof away from competitors — who, many believed, should have been required to demonstrate that they were not involved in the doping program. Onto specialists, who now must prove that competitors were involved. The competitor can challenge them if they don’t have that evidence. Furthermore, finding proof has been difficult because Russia has thrown or altered most of the material.

So, are there Russian drug cheats at the Olympics?

We don’t have a clue and may never find out. That is also what swimmers like Murphy find so “befuddling.” We can be sure that the state-backed strategy benefited Russian competitors, many of whom are likely to be dynamic. It is tough to pinpoint precisely who cheated, but they are out there. Furthermore, the knowledge that they are out there — perhaps working against you, maybe not — is what Murphy referred to as a “psychological channel” and why he felt compelled to speak up.

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