By: Fil Sys. I am an aspiring journalist who unashamedly jumps at the opportunity to tackle the controversial or hold the establishment to account | Twitter: @fil_sys
The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has definitive proof that the Russian Anti-Doping Agency, parts of the government and many Russian athletes knew about, or took part in, systematic cheating during the last Olympic Games. Attempting to trample the opposition through deception and subterfuge is nothing new in Russia. Russia and its former Soviet parent suffer from the same destructive disease. Something I call: Cold War Syndrome.
To properly diagnose Cold War Syndrome, we need to analyse the origins of this very debilitating ailment. Russia, like many other nations and superpowers, has placed very high value on athleticism and sport. The only thing that is more important is winning. Regardless of what protectionist parts of society say, winning (to most people) is what really matters. But, how far are you prepared to go to win? This is where Russia is exceptional.
Unfortunately, Cold War Syndrome, very much like the Common Cold is to a human, seems to be forever prevalent in Russia’s sporting history. Members of the current Russian Politburo, sorry I mean government (it’s hard to tell sometimes), know full well of the doping abuses of the former USSR. At the height of the Cold War, Soviet and Eastern Bloc athletes were encouraged to take performance enhancing drugs, or were tricked into taking them, sometimes with very harmful results. For example, the female East German athlete, Heidi Krieger, was subjected to such an intensive steroid programme that she eventually took the decision it would be much easier to transition to a man.
Of course, what has been uncovered by WADA this year cannot be compared to the risks that athletes took during the Soviet era. However, one element is constant: the desire to dominate. During the Cold War, the USSR was dominant in the East and attempted to assert influence across the globe. Whatever capacity the Soviets demonstrated power in, be that the choke-hold on Eastern Europe or the first man in space, there was one thing that they were lacking: recognition and respect from ‘the West’. What better place to prove who was top-dog than in sport? That way, the world could physically see that the USSR was better than its competitors. Sport became fair game for politics.
The old strain of Cold War Syndrome was thought to have been eradicated with the fall of the USSR in 1991. However, and very worryingly, Cold War Syndrome has returned. The outbreak seems to have been traced to the current leadership in Russia. The increasingly nationalistic, aggressive and foreign policy centred government, led by yours truly Putin, must bear responsibility for the Olympic-sized, state run doping regime uncovered by WADA. The symptoms of Cold War Syndrome are all too recognisable in this new but more deadly strain. The invasion of the Crimea, the conflict in Eastern Ukraine, the downing of MH17, blatant violations of airspace by jets and the alignment with President Assad, shows a renewed Russian thirst for dominance. Relations have returned to near Cold War standards, coinciding with Russia resuming an interest in international dominance.
Cold War Syndrome, as we have discussed, feeds off the desire for recognition. Like father like son, Russia has mirrored the former USSR and has chosen sport to demonstrate superiority, with the ultimate aim of receiving respect from the international community. Doping was, and now is, seen as a way of securing this desire.
Fear not! A vaccine for Cold War Syndrome has been proposed by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF). The well supported idea is to ban Russia completely from the Olympic Games this year. This will punish both scrupulous and unscrupulous athletes, but it is ultimately hoped this truly ruinous disease will be finally consigned to the pages of history.
Banning Russia is the first step towards recovery. What is really needed is a long period of rehabilitation for the whole of Russian sport, to fully appreciate the damage it has caused internationally.
Ban Russia from the Olympics and get rid of their 'Cold War syndrome' Reviewed by Student Voices on 18:43 Rating: