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Why All Criticisms of the IOC’s Refusal to Ban Russian Athletes are Wrong

The IOC decision was the only proper one and shows that the West’s hold on world sport is slipping.

Alexander Mercouris

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The sound and fury of the Western media following the IOC’s decision not to proceed with the proposed blanket ban of Russian athletes is a wonder to behold. 

As is now standard with anything concerning Russia there is ugly talk of cowardice and wholly unwarranted hints the decision was made corruptly.  A number of articles have appeared hinting darkly that the IOC President Thomas Bach made the decision because he is a personal friend of Putin’s, though the extent to which Bach and Putin really are personal friends is open to doubt. 

There are also angry complaints that athletes from other counties will not now know whether the Russian athletes they are competing against in Rio are competing honestly. It is also being said that the various sports federations that must now decide whether to ban Russian athletes simply do not have the time or the resources or in some cases even the inclination to make the decision properly before the Games begin in less than 2 weeks time, and that the procedure for making the decision, despite the practically unreported involvement in the procedure of the Court of Arbitration for Sport, is somehow unclear.

Meanwhile there is fury at the supposedly unfair treatment of Stepanova, who it is alleged is being prevented from competing in Rio because of the IOC’s decision to impose lifetime bans on Russian athletes found to have been engaged in doping (as she has admitted having done).  It is being said this decision is bizarre given that she was supposedly instrumental in exposing the doping in the first place, and that by preventing her from competing the IOC is punishing a “whistleblower”, which will deter other potential whistleblowers from coming forward.  It is also being said that the ban on Stepanova is discriminatory and illegal since no lifetime bans have been imposed on athletes from other countries who have previously been found to have used drugs, and the Court of Arbitration for Sport has previously ruled that such lifetime bans are illegal.

All these claims and arguments are false and/or mendacious.

Firstly the IOC’s decision was unanimous.  It is clear that the proposal for a blanket ban came up against overwhelming opposition from the various sports federations.  Whilst Thomas Bach clearly agrees with the decision, it is absurd to say he made it himself or that he somehow unilaterally imposed it on everyone else.

The IOC statement makes clear that the key sticking point was that the IOC was not prepared to set aside the presumption of innocence for those Russian athletes who have never been found to have used drugs.  As I have discussed previously, it is overwhelmingly likely the IOC was legally advised that the presumption of innocence quite simply cannot be set aside, and that there would be extremely serious legal and moral consequences involved in doing so.  This is an obvious truth which ought to be obvious to everybody.  It is dismaying that so few people in the West seem able to understand or acknowledge it.

As for the question of whether or not any Russian athletes who will now go to Rio may still be cheating and the supposed difficulty for sports federations to ensure they are not, it remains the case that not a single article I have read about the scandal in the British media has reported that Russian track and field athletes’ samples are now being tested in Britain, and that British officials are now involved in every stage of their collection and testing.  No one has explained how Russian track and field athletes – who remain collectively banned from Rio – can cheat in these circumstances.  Whilst I do not know for a fact that the same system is used to test all Russian athletes and not just track and field athletes, I presume that it is.

This question however goes to the heart of the whole problem with this scandal.  What is the objective here?  Is it to mete out punishment for cheating that is alleged to have happened at previous Games?  Or is it to prevent cheating at the Rio Games and at any future Games?  There has never been proper clarity on this question, probably because those who have been campaigning for a blanket ban know that any demand for a ban couched in clearcut terms of punishment would inevitably involve punishing innocent athletes for the earlier misdeeds of other – guilty – athletes.  As the IOC has said, punishing the innocent to spite the guilty is unacceptable, and it is right.

Those who think the precautions already taken to prevent cheating by Russian athletes at Rio are insufficient despite involving British scientists and British officials should in fairness say so, and should also say what they think should be done over and above what has already been done to make cheating by Russian athletes in Rio impossible.  That is what proponents of the campaign do not do, but it is what the IOC – very properly – is now trying to do.  That it has been left so desperately late – with all the undoubted problems that will cause – is not the fault of the IOC or indeed of the Russians.  It is the fault of those like WADA who have wasted months of time campaigning for an illegal blanket ban instead of proposing a legal and workable solution to the problem, which the Russians could have worked towards.

To be clear, this is not to give Russian athletes and sports officials who have previously cheated a free pass.  In any rational world what ought to have happened is that when Stepanova’s and Rochenkov’s allegations became public a full and proper investigation ought to have been set up, with all the witnesses examined and represented by legal counsel, and with the forensic evidence examined by a variety of scientific experts, who could have been cross-examined and whose reports would have been made public.  

Since this would have taken time – a year at least – arrangements of the sort now set up by the IOC should have been made in the meantime to ensure that there was no cheating by Russian athletes at Rio.  Given the scale of the allegations and the suspicion of state involvement in the doping, this would inevitably have involved barring Russian athletes already found to have cheated from competing in Rio, harsh though that is.  At the end of this process the investigation would have delivered a proper report – not like the deeply flawed report provided by McLaren – either confirming or refuting the allegations, and making specific recommendations to prevent the problem arising again.  These might have included proposals for lifetime bans and criminal prosecutions of any individuals shown to have done wrong – including incidentally Rodchenkov and Stepanova if they were found to have given false testimony maliciously.  

None of this happened, and it is difficult to avoid the feeling that this was because WADA and those behind the campaign were not genuinely interested in finding a solution to the problem of doping in Russian sports, but were instead using the problem to further an agenda to exclude Russia from the Olympic Games.

Which brings me to the question of Stepanova.  It is simply not true that she is being barred from the Rio Olympics because the IOC has imposed an illogical and discriminatory lifetime ban on all Russian athletes who like her have previously been caught doping.  It is because the IOC’s Ethics Commission decided she has acted unethically.  I provided the full text of the IOC’s statement in an earlier article, but the key words of the advice provided to the IOC by its Ethics Commission are these:

“…..the sanction to which she was subject and the circumstances in which she denounced the doping practices which she had used herself, do not satisfy the ethical requirements for an athlete to enter the Olympic Games.”

(bold italics added for emphasis)

The IOC statement clearly says that when deciding Stepanova’s case it accepted this advice of its Ethics Commission.  Whilst it did refer to its ban on Russian athletes who have been caught doping, it says it only took this ban “into consideration” when deciding Stepanova’s case.  Implicit in this phrase – and indeed in the IOC’s whole statement – is that the IOC had the power to make an exception in Stepanova’s favour and would have done so had the Ethics Commission advised differently.  The IOC did not make that exception because the Ethics Commission advised that Stepanova had acted unethically.

These words are very interesting because, as I also pointed out in my previous article, they strongly suggest that the IOC and its Ethics Commission – having examined Stepanova and her evidence – is distinctly unimpressed by her, and shares many of the doubts about her expressed by Andrey Fomin in his excellent article about the scandal which The Duran published previously.  That is why the IOC and its Ethics Commission not only say Stepanova acted unethically, but have lumped her together with all the other banned Russian athletes.   WADA – which relied heavily on Stepanova’s evidence – undoubtedly can see that, which is why the IOC’s decision has made it so angry. 

Which brings me finally to the question of the doping allegations themselves.  I do not know whether they are true or not.  However – and not for the first time in a case involving Russia – I cannot see how anyone else thinks they can know either.  The Western media is reporting the allegations as if they have been proved and are therefore definitely true.  As Andrey Fomin and I have previously said, the grossly defective way they have been investigated and the tainted nature of the sources shows that this is simply not the case.

That is not just Andrey Fomin’s view and mine.  It is fairly obvious from the IOC’s statements and what has been said by various other sports officials from around the world (including Europe) that it is also the opinion of many other people in world sport as well.  As in the cases of MH17 and Litvinenko some people in the West decided on the strength of certain accusations, incomplete evidence and an inherently biased process to declare the Russians guilty of something, and have spent the time since then trying to shout down anyone who disagrees with them.  On this occasion – to their great anger – it didn’t work. 

What that suggests is that the West’s hold on world sport is no longer as strong as it once was and as those behind the campaign thought it was when they set out on it.  That is probably the single most important fact to take away from this whole affair.

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James Woods Suspended From Twitter Over Satirical Meme That Could “Impact An Election”

James Woods crushes Jack Dorsey: “You are a coward, @Jack.”

Alex Christoforou

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Via Zerohedge


Outspoken conservative actor James Woods was suspended from posting to Twitter over a two-month-old satirical meme which very clearly parodies a Democratic advertisement campaign. While the actor’s tweets are still visible, he is unable to post new content.

The offending tweet from July 20, features three millennial-aged men with “nu-male smiles” and text that reads “We’re making a Woman’s Vote Worth more by staying home.” Above it, Woods writes “Pretty scary that there is a distinct possibility this could be real. Not likely, but in this day and age of absolute liberal insanity, it is at least possible.”

According to screenshots provided by an associate of Woods’, Twitter directed the actor to delete the post on the grounds that it contained “text and imagery that has the potential to be misleading in a way that could impact an election.

In other words, James Woods, who has approximately 1.72 million followers, was suspended because liberals who don’t identify as women might actually take the meme seriously and not vote. 

In a statement released through associate Sara Miller, Woods said “You are a coward, @Jack,” referring to Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey. “There is no free speech for Conservatives on @Twitter.

Earlier this month, Woods opined on the mass-platform ban of Alex Jones, tweeting: ““I’ve never read Alex Jones nor watched any of his video presence on the internet. A friend told me he was an extremist. Believe me that I know nothing about him. That said, I think banning him from the internet is a slippery slope. This is the beginning of real fascism. Trust me.”

Nu-males everywhere non-threateningly smirk at Woods’ bad fortune…

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Another witness named by Ford becomes third person to deny being at party

A woman believed to have been one of five people at a party 35 years ago where Ford claims she was assaulted by Kavanaugh is now the fourth person to deny being at any such party.

The Duran

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Via The Washington Examiner


A witness, reportedly named by Christine Blasey Ford as one of the people at the high school party where Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh allegedly sexually assaulted her, told the Senate Judiciary Committee on Saturday she was not there.

The attorney for Leland Ingham Keyser told the Senate Judiciary Committee that Keyser does not remember being at the party Ford described as the location of the alleged assault.

“Ms. Keyser does not know Mr. Kavanaugh and she has no recollection of ever being at a party or gathering where he was present, with, or without, Dr. Ford,” Keyser said in the statement. CNN reported Keyser is a lifelong friend of Ford’s.

Keyser, whom the New York Times reported is one of the people Ford named as being in attendance at the party, is the third witness who has denied knowing about the alleged assault. Mark Judge and Patrick Smyth said earlier this week they did not remember the party in question.

Kavanaugh has denied Ford’s allegation.

The news comes after Ford, through her attorneys, tentatively agreed to testify on Thursday, after days of negotiations over the timing and conditions of her

Committee chairman Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, had repeatedly extended deadlines set for Ford’s team on the decision, including three on Friday and one at 2:30 p.m. Saturday. Grassley threatened to proceed with a committee vote on Kavanaugh’s nomination Monday if he did not hear from Ford.

“Five times now we [have] granted extension for Dr Ford to decide if she wants to proceed [with] her desire stated one [week] ago that she wants to tell senate her story,” Grassley tweeted Friday. “Dr Ford if u changed ur mind say so so we can move on I want to hear ur testimony. Come to us or we to u.”

The extended discussions have been labeled a delaying tactic by some Republicans.

Ford’s attorneys and Grassley’s aides will reportedly continue negotiations Sunday on the details of the conditions of Ford’s testimony, per the New York Times.

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Was NYT Story About Rosenstein ‘Coup Attempt’ A Setup?

The New York Times is reporting that Rod Rosenstein pushed a plan to record President Trump and invoke the 25th Amendment to remove Trump from office.

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Via Zerohedge


Is the FBI trying to goad President Trump into firing the man in charge of supervising the Mueller probe? That’s what Sean Hannity and a handful of  Trump’s Congressional allies think.

According to a report in Politico, Republicans in Congress are approaching a story about Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein attempting to organize a palace coup with extreme caution, despite having twice nearly gathered the votes to remove him in the recent past.

On Friday, the NYT reported a bombshell story alleging that Rosenstein had tried to recruit administration officials to secretly tape conversations with the president in order to help justify removing Trump under the 25th amendment. Rosenstein vehemently denied the story, which was largely based on confidential memos written by former Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe. And others who were reportedly in attendance at meeting between McCabe and Rosenstein said the Deputy AG was being “sarcastic” when he suggested that the president be taped.

Meanwhile, Trump allies including Ohio Congressman Jim Jordan and Florida Congressman Matt Gaetz are saying that the story should be treated with suspicion. Jordan and Freedom Caucus leader Mark Meadows once filed articles of impeachment against Rosenstein. But now, both Meadows and Jordan intend to proceed with caution, telling Politico that he would like to see the memos that the story was based on.

House Freedom Caucus leaders Mark Meadows and Jim Jordan, who led a charge to impeach Rosenstein this summer, have said they want to hear from Rosenstein and see documents allegedly describing the comments before they decide what to do.That’s awarded Rosenstein a courtesy they’ve never given him in the past.

“I think Rod needs to come before Congress this week and explain under oath what exactly he said and didn’t say,” Meadows said at the Values Voters Summit Saturday.

The newfound hesitation to oust Rosenstein highlights a cautious approach Trump allies have adopted as the Republican party barrels toward a potential bloodbath in the midterms. Some Republicans fear Trump firing Rosenstein now would only further energize Democrats making the case to voters that the president is corrupt and needs to be reined in by a Democratic House.

[…]

In a Friday interview, Jordan, one of Rosenstein’s fiercest critics in Congress, sidestepped questions about whether the House should revisit Rosenstein’s impeachment or try to hold him in contempt of Congress. Rather, he said, a more focused push to obtain sensitive documents from the Justice Department — which Trump’s allies say would expose anti-Trump bias and corruption the FBI — is the most urgent priority.

“I want to see those memos and evaluate them,” said Jordan, who has clashed publicly with Rosenstein over access to documents and accused him of threatening House Intelligence Committee staffers, an allegation Rosenstein denied.

Politico cites two possible explanations for lawmakers’ hesitation: Republicans are running out of time before members devote themselves full-time to their reelection campaigns. Republicans are worried that the story could have been intentionally planted to provoke Rosenstein’s firing in order to improve Democrats’ chances of retaking the Senate AND the House (Trump actively moving to crush the Mueller probe would be quite the propaganda win for the Dems).

Sean Hannity took this latter theory a step further during his show on Friday evening, where he urged Trump not to fire Rosie and instead insisted that the story could have been a “trap”. He added that he had been told by “multiple sources” that the story was planted by unspecified “enemies of Trump.”

“I have a message for the president tonight,” Hannity said Friday night. “Under zero circumstances should the president fire anybody…the president needs to know it is all a setup.”

Still, a handful of conservative commentators, including Laura Ingraham, urged Trump to fire Rosenstein immediately. And for Trump’s part, he hinted at a rally Friday night in Missouri that he planned to “get rid” of the “lingering stench” at the DOJ, which many interpreted as a hint that his firing is imminent.

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