Russia Was Right: What Can Be Learnt From WADA’s Call to Punish Our Sport

Russia’s sporting world is shocked by the World Anti-Doping Agency’s unveiled plans.

The WADA Compliance Committee released a statement that comes down to two main points: a) Russia is effectively combatting doping in national sports; b) Russia needs to be severely punished.

Seriously, that’s what it says.

The activities of the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA) are considered to be effective, and its cooperation with other anti-doping organisations is fruitful. The Committee does not recommend special monitoring and oversight of the organisation over a four-year period.

At the same time, a list of recommended sanctions is presented. The key ones – a ban on holding international competitions in the country, the participation of “clean” athletes at competitions only in neutral status, and the deprivation of the national team of the opportunity to perform under the national flag at large competitions. All of this is for the same four years.

A fundamental decision will be made at the meeting of the executive committee of WADA on December 9th.

Comments of representatives of our sports fluctuate between hope that, maybe, everything will work out, horror that such a decision will become the “murder of Russian sport”, and indignation at the injustice of WADA’s actions.

Sports lawyers call what is happening “complete nonsense”, but recognise that if a decision recommended by the committee is taken, the chances of challenging it are extremely small.

And in very many statements the subtext shows sincere bewilderment concerning why all of this is happening at all.

After all, the problems seemed to be gradually solved. We diligently complied with the requirements and did everything to correct the situation. And in general, the story of doping is meaningful and ideologically related to the mid-2010s, when the West actively isolated Russia, seeking its surrender in all directions, and big sport is traditionally connected to big politics. Since then, however, the world has undergone radical changes. Duct tape didn’t suffice, the country stood its ground and returned to the international arena for a new cycle of geopolitical influence, and cooperation with Western countries is recovering.

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Why is the situation in sport only getting worse and our athletes remain hostages of WADA, which, apparently, does not intend to stop its rabid Russophobia?

This question, indeed, is very important – and quite simple.

WADA treats Russian sport this way simply because it can afford to.

Russia has radically changed its position in world politics over the years. But this succeeded not because Moscow obeyed the regulations – but for the opposite reasons.

Moscow refused to play by the imposed rules (or rather, orders) and started to actively create its own. Of course, it was risky. Only the strategy of “keep your head down and do not irritate the West even more” would surely lead the country to the catastrophe towards which it was pushed.

The result is known. Numerous “adventures of the Kremlin”, which they laughed at on the other side – from counter-sanctions to the military operation in Syria, from import substitution to persistent construction of pipelines in all possible directions – resulted in acquisitions, which in turn resulted in the restoration of relations with Western countries.

Once again: it happened not because they realised they were wrong, but because Russia left them no way out.

Unlike the diplomatic, economic, military, oil and gas, and many other spheres that have responded to the challenge posed by the West by raising the stakes, our sport (in many ways forced, for objective reasons: the degree of “globalisation” and “unipolarity” in this sphere is much higher than in the above-mentioned) has followed a different path. It did not fight with WADA, the International Association of Athletics Federations (IIAF) and other mastodons-organisations. Russian sport fulfilled all requirements and regulations – in the hope that it would be possible to solve problems and gradually come to an agreement on everything.

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Hopes were dashed.

And this – for all the tragedy of the situation with our sport – tells us how Russia was right not to express obedience in other spheres.

This story clearly, even for the most pink fairies, shows that they will flog us not for doing something wrong, but simply because they can.

Irina Alksnis

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