Russia’s overdue Olympic ban is no cure for anti-doping impotence

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IT HAS taken seven investigative reports and seven years. But at long last the International Olympic Committee (IOC) decided on December 5th to punish Russia for running a state-sponsored doping programme, by banning the country from taking a team to next February’s winter games in Pyeongchang, South Korea. Russian athletes hoping to compete will have to do so carrying the Olympic flag and singing the Olympic anthem—if they can prove that they are clean. Though many countries have been excluded from past games for political reasons, and a couple have been suspended from individual sports for cheating, the exclusion of an entire national team for doping is without precedent. Thomas Bach, the president of the IOC, was bullish when announcing yesterday’s sanctions, which “should draw a line under this damaging episode and serve as a catalyst for a more effective anti-doping system”.

The punishments are well-deserved, but Mr Bach’s claims that they will end the scandal and mark a new chapter in sport’s war on drugs are…Continue reading

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