Doping Scandal: Will Russian Athletes Be Going to the Olympics or Back to the USSR?

Is Russia reverting back into the USSR of the 1950s? If a report by an independent commission of the World Anti-Doping Agency has anything to suggest, the answer may be “Da,” Forbes reports.

Russian officials are being accused of engaging in a years-long, state-sponsored illegal doping program. The accusations are aimed primarily at figures in the country’s sports agencies, who may have had some assistance from comrades in the security services. Just what they were up to, according to the report, which was launched after the broadcast of a documentary on German television station ARD, could put smiles on the faces of people those nostalgic for the Cold War era, the Space Race, John le Carré spy novels, or Rocky IV.

The 323-page report from WADA includes references to information gleaned from audio and video evidence, scientific investigation, individual statements, and cybercrime analysis. Interpol is mentioned. So is the Federal Security Service, the internal security and counterintelligence agency that succeeded the Soviet era KGB. But, really, the report focuses on track and field, using it as a way in to describing an allegedly extensive doping program. One key conclusion of the report is that there existed a tendency “to demonstrate criminal conduct on the part of certain individuals and organizations.”

This isn’t the first time that Russian sports officials—as high up as the Ministry of Sport—have faced allegations of athlete doping in concert with coaches, trainers, doctors, and bribed Olympic officials. Nor is it the first time they’ve been accused of improper administration of anti-doping processes and the mismanagement of testing samples and results, either. It’s not for nothing that the 1980 Olympic Games in Moscow have been referred to in inquiries by Australian government officials as “The Junkie Olympics” and “The Chemists’ Games.” The allegation of doping gone wild only adds to the view of a moral stench surrounding the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia, where the Russian squad was awarded a total of 33 medals—including 13 gold medals, the most by any country.

The findings of the WADA report are obviously hugely serious. WADA says Russian track and field athletes ought be suspended from Olympic competition in 2016. To suspend the entire athlete delegation—not just individual athletes—from an international superpower says this is no run-of-the-mill failure to pass a urine test.

The International Olympic Committee, for its part, regards the report as “deeply shocking” and “very saddening for the world of sport.” Its leadership said that they will invoke a zero tolerance policy for infringements on the anti-doping rules.