Допинг-скандал: Кто не поедет в Рио? / The doping scandal: Who won’t be going to Rio?

Elena Isinbaeva, Russian pole vaulter

Audio content: Athletes and sports officials commenting on the exclusion of Russia’s track and field athletes from the Rio Olympics
Video content: leading athletes, coaches, track and field competitions

(Video embedded below)

Russian athletics has been caught up in a doping scandal of enormous proportions for the last year or more. A report by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) recently presented the results of their investigations. According to the report, Russian state agencies including the Federal Security Service (ФСБ, Федеральная служба безопасности) and the Ministry of Sport (Министерство спорта) oversaw the falsification of doping tests for Russian athletes in the years leading up to and including the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. Over the course of several years, state agencies worked with the Moscow Anti-Doping Laboratory to simply reclassify positive tests as negative. Then, after the scheme was discovered, the Moscow laboratory was discredited by international organizations and its head, Grigory Rodchenkov, fled to the US in late 2015 and began sharing additional information about the doping system. The most sensational aspect of the scandal is the plot used to evade doping safeguards at the Sochi Olympics. Apparently there was a small hole in a wall between the secure room that stored athletes’ urine samples and an adjacent room that was outside the secure perimeter. In the middle of the night, Russian anti-doping officials would pass out urine samples to FSB agents in the next room, who would replace the tainted urine with clean samples that had been collected well in advance. Somehow the people involved managed to open and reseal the supposedly tamper-proof urine bottles without leaving a trace. Their efforts seem to have paid off: Russia won more medals than any other nation in the Sochi Olympics. See this article by the New York Times for more information.

After this state-directed doping scheme was revealed, the big question, of course, was whether Russia would be allowed to participate in the 2016 Olympics in Rio. In late July 2016, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) issued its decision: Russians would be allowed to participate, but any athlete who had been caught doping at any time in the past — even if the disqualification period had expired — would not be allowed to participate. Also, the entire Russian track and field team has been disqualified due to an earlier decision by the international federation for that sport. This article by Meduza gives a quick overview of how the decision affects Russia’s Olympic teams in various sports.

So how has Russia responded to this situation? That’s the focus of today’s post, which features a video from one of the state-controlled federal television networks. In general, the Russian response from official channels reminds me of the phrase “морочить голову” (to confuse / deceive / befuddle): news reports do not contest the  doping allegations, but so many other factors are brought into the discussion that Russia ends up looking like a noble victim.  Common assertions include the following: the whole affair is more about politics than athletics; the investigation is part of the “information war” being waged by the West against Russia; the fact that Russian athletes will be subject to more scrutiny than other athletes amounts to discrimination on the basis of nationality; it is unjust to impose collective punishment for the actions of individuals; Russian anti-doping institutions passed inspections with flying colors in the past; WADA didn’t let Russian officials provide input on the report; Russian institutions have recently been complying with all the requirements of international sports organizations, but these groups keep making new unfair demands; our Russian athletes are suffering under the uncertainty about whether they’ll be able to travel to Rio, etc. etc.

The true victims of the scandal are individual athletes, both the non-Russian athletes who competed in a tainted Olympic Games in Sochi and the “clean” Russian athletes who are suffering the consequences of the state’s decision to engage in such large-scale deception. Many Russian athletes who have not been individually implicated in doping will be able to compete in the Rio Olympics, but in the area of track and field some athletes with clean histories have been excluded along with the entire team. Other Russian athletes with minor or years-old doping violations are also excluded even though, under normal circumstances, they would be eligible to compete. Presumably the unreliable practices of the Moscow “Anti-Doping” Laboratory make it difficult to determine which athletes are clean and which aren’t. Keep in mind that the athletes who have been training for the Rio Summer Olympics are not the same ones who competed in the tainted Sochi Winter Olympics.

Today’s video comes from mid-June 2016, when an international track and field association had just made its decision to exclude Russian athletes from the Olympics. One of the speakers featured is Elena Isinbaeva, a two-time gold medalist in pole vaulting. Isinbaeva has become one of the leading voices speaking out against the IOC and WADA. She is currently appealing her exclusion to the European Court of Human Rights. Her closing statement is particularly poignant.

Заметки о языке: track and field is “лёгкая атлетика”; common words for a sports team include “команда” or “клуб,” but here the word “сборная” is used to refer to a team operating at the collective national level; the Olympics can be referred to as “Олимпиада” or “Олимпийские игры”; “выступать” is a common word for a performance, whether athletic, artistic or professional; the suffix “-то,” in conversational language, can be added to almost any noun or pronoun for emphasis — sometimes it makes up for the fact that Russian lacks a definite article (see “они-то” in the first segment); and, of course, doping is “допинг” — more and more of these odd Anglicisms ending in -инг are showing up in Russian lately.

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VIDEO CLIP:

Link to the video at Первый канал (additional transcripts available here)

 

Russian Transcript

0:50-1:04
Александр Жуков, Президент Олимпийского комитета России: Я считаю, что несправедливо не разрешать чистым спортсменам ни присутствовать на Олимпиаде, ни соревноваться. Это просто… они-то чем виноваты, что там кто-то другой упортреблял допинг? Отвественность только индивидуальная должна быть.

1:25-1:35
Андрей Сильнов, Олимпийский чемпион по легкой атлетике: Я, как спортсмен, как патриот своей страны, я буду выступать только под флагом России. Под каким-то другим флагом выехать на соревнование, чтобы попрыгать… смысла никакого не вижу.

1:45-2:05
Елена Исинбаева, олимпийская чемпионка по легкой атлетике: Я уверена, что без российской сборной на Олимпийских играх в Рио, это будет уже не та Олимпиада. Все результаты, которые будут показаны другими спортсменами, будут ничего не значить, ничего не стоить. Потому что, естественно, без сильного соперника они, как говорится, будут в расслабленном состоянии там выступать. Олимпиаду я смотреть не буду. Для меня она просто не будет существовать.

2:20-2:35
Павел Крашенинников, юрист, депутат Думы: Вместо презумпции невиновности нам предлагают принцип, который был в Средневековье — принцип презумпции виновности. То есть, не важно, кто и что делал, но вы во всём виноваты. Вот есть коллектив, и весь коллектив будет за всё отвечать.

3:05-3:35
Дмитрий Шляхтин, Президент Всероссийской федерации лёгкой атлетики: Нам, конечно, сейчас вдвойне обидно, что такое решение было вынесено. Более того, что там ужесточили требования и все наши специалисты, именно функционеры, отстранены от дальнейшей работы на международном уровне. Это, в первую очередь, судейский корпус и генсек Михаил Аркадьевич Бутов. Который… я так понимаю, его действия тоже и членство в ИААФ приостановлены. Вот такое решение. Оно, конечно, шокировало нас.

4:30-4:55
Елена Исинбаева, олимпийская чемпионка по легкой атлетике: Поддержите нас, потому что ваша поддержка нужна сегодня как никогда. Вот… хотя бы, так сказать, в ваших глазах и в ваших аплодисментах почувствовать подержку в этой несправедливой ситуации. Нам это сегодня очень нужно, и надеюсь… вообще уже ни на что не надеюсь. Просто спасибо, что были все эти годы с нами.

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English Translation

0:50-1:04
Aleksandr Zhukov, President of Russia’s Olympic Committee: I think it’s unjust that the “clean” athletes are allowed neither to be present at the Olympics nor to compete. That’s simply… how are they guilty that some other person used doping? Responsibility should only be individual.

1:25-1:35
Andrei Silnov, Olympic gold medalist in track and field: I, as an athlete, as a patriot of my country, I will perform only under the flag of Russia. To go out to a competition under some other flag, [just] to jump… I don’t see any sense [in that].

1:45-2:05
Yelena Isinbaeva, Olympic gold medalist in track and field: I am sure that without the Russian team at the Olympic Games in Rio, it will not be the same Olympics anymore. All the results presented by the other athletes will not mean anything, will not be worth anything. Because, of course, without a strong opponent, as people say, they will perform there in a relaxed [also: weakened] state. I will not watch the Olympics. For me they simply will not exist.

2:20-2:35
Pavel Krasheninnikov, lawyer, member of Parliament: Instead of the presumption of innocence they are offering us a principle that existed in the Middle Ages — the principle of the presumption of guilt. That is, it’s not important who did what, but you all are guilty in everything. There’s a collective, and the entire collective will answer for everything.

3:05-3:35
Dmitri Shliakhtin, President of the All-Russian Track and Field Federation: It is, of course, doubly insulting to us now, that such a decision was announced. And what’s more — they made the demands even more harsh and all of our specialists, precisely the administrative functionaries, are barred from further work at the international level. This [refers to], first of all, the corps of judges and the gensec [general secretary] [of the track and field federation] Mikhail Arkadievich Butov. Who… as I understand it, his activity and membership in IAAF is suspended. So that’s the kind of decision it is. Of course it shocked us.

4:30-4:55
Elena Isinbaeva, Olympic gold medalist in track and field: Support us, because your support is needed today like never before. So… at least, so to speak, in your eyes and in your applause [we can] feel support in this unjust situation. We really need that today, and I hope… overall I already don’t hope for anything. Just — thank you for having been with us all those years.

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