Why target Russia?

Probing Eye
(This piece was written on eve of the opening ceremony of Rio 2016 Olympic games.)

Hours before the “cool” opening ceremony of the 31st Olympic games, the IOC Review Panel waved a green flag to ensure participation of 271 Russian athletes in the mega sporting event. The Review Panel comprising the former IOC Chief Juan Antonio Samaranch, IOC Executive Board member Ugur Erdener and Chair of the Medical and Scientific Commission, Claudia Bokel was mandated to review Russia’s participation in the Games following several Russian athletes tested positive for doping. The original size of Russian contingent was 389.

This last minute clearance to Russia may not be the end of the ongoing cold war between the erstwhile East Bloc and the dominant West. The cold war, many believe, had its origin much before the boycott of the 1980 Moscow Olympic games.

The war has now narrowed down to Doping. In the name of making games “Clean”, a strong Western lobby has been hitting hard to decimate the Russian dominance that challenged the US for the top position in the medals tally in the summer Olympic games.

After the breakdown of the Soviet Union and disintegration of the East Bloc, Russia continues to be a formidable threat to the West. Looking back at Olympic games history, countries that owed allegiance to the East Bloc or the Soviet group performed very well compared to most of the Western nations.

If Rumania produced “rubber dolls” like Nadia Comaneci, the sports scientists of the East Bloc thumped their backs for making major breakthroughs in physical fitness and sports physiology. Most of the athletes from the East Bloc nations excelled in various sports, especially in gymnastics, swimming, weightlifting, wrestling and athletics.

In one of the Olympics when a journalist questioned the team officials of one of the East Bloc nations about the hoarse voice of their female athletes, the answer was that “they have here to compete in Olympics and not sing songs”.

That was the beginning when the “Doping” actually got into the motion. The Western world got together and thus started the cold war.After the collapse of the East Bloc, the war has been intensified.

It is not to suggest that the problem of feeding budding athletes with performance-enhancing drugs, including steroids was limited only to the East Bloc nations but those found guilty or banned had a fairly large percentage of the East European nations. Some other countries like India, who remained allies of the East Bloc, too, have been under fire. India’s history in “Doping” is well known.

Most of the Indian athletes found guilty of taking performance enhancing drugs blamed their Russian or trainers from other erstwhile east Bloc nations for giving them diet supplements. Even this time, if fingers have been raised over some Indian athletes taking to banned drugs, some fingers are still pointed towards their trainers from Russia or other East European countries.

The war is on. Will sports remain fair, free and for all?, is a big question. The West dominated International Olympic Committee has to answer and find a solution.