by Julia Mazzucco
Two years ago, Russia topped the leader board at the Sochi Olympics with 33 medals won, but will Russia be at the top again in Rio this summer? There’s a very good chance the country might not win a single one. But it has nothing to do with the talent of Russian athletes. Recent allegations of a doping scandal may lead to the disqualification of the Russian Olympic team.
Before athletes start to train for the Olympics, they must undergo numerous tests to ensure that performance-enhancing drugs are not being used. After Russia won more medals than usual in the Sochi Olympics, the International Olympic Committee began to double check if there was any activity that was alarming, according to nytimes.com. Further investigation revealed that the Russian athletes were replacing their urine samples with ones taken prior to any sort of training, giving them the ability to take drugs without the committee knowing.
Russia is not alone. Kenya has also been under scrutiny for doping problems, where more than 40 Kenyan athletes have been banned in the past 10 years due to consuming drugs while competing in preliminary rounds for the Olympics, according to cnn.com. Kenya is not at risk of losing the opportunity to compete as a country, since the International Association of Athletics Federations declared last week that it is released from the possibility of being banned but has still been placed on a monitoring list.
As the Olympics begin to come closer, the Russian scandal has not reached a clear resolution. If the IOC verdict rules that Russia cannot field a team, then its athletes may have to compete as individuals. This kind of ruling has not happened since 1999, when Afghanistan was banned from the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games due to similar doping allegations. Look out for the IOC’s June 17 decision to see whether the Russian team will remain a top competitor as one team or be forced to split.