For all its flaws, the International Olympic Committee made the right decision when it banned Russia from the Winter Olympics. This was not a case of a small and isolated group of athletes being caught using performance-enhancing drugs. This was, according to the report the IOC received, a state-sponsored cover-up to allow hundreds of Russian athletes to get away with cheating.
It’s a shame that some clean athletes have been tainted by the scandal, and even those who go to the Olympics now won’t have the honour of representing their country, but that’s the fault of the Russian authorities, not the IOC. The sanctions are not only an appropriate punishment against Russia but a warning to other countries that there are serious consequences for deliberately manipulating test results, distorting fair competition and attacking the integrity of sport.
More importantly, this is a huge embarrassment for Russian President Vladimir Putin, who has tried to bolster his country’s image through success in sports at any cost. Let’s hope this is a new chapter of harsh punishment for cheaters who steal medals from clean athletes, and the people who support them.