What the athletes competing in the Rio Olympic Games think of the doping scandal was made clear on 18th August 2016 during the elections to the International Olympic Committee’s Athletes’ Committee.
Twenty three candidates stood for four vacant places on the Athletes’ Committee. The four elected are German fencer Britta Heidemann (1,603 votes), South Korean table tennis player Ryu Seung-min (1,544 votes), Hungarian swimmer Daniel Gyurta (1,469 votes) and – in a massive snub to WADA and the IAAF which banned her from competing in Rio – Russia’s two-time Olympic pole vault champion Yelena Isinbayeva (1,365 votes).
Isinbayeva is Russia’s most famous current athlete. She has a completely clean record, and was a strong prospect for another gold medal in her sport. She was however banned from competing in Rio at WADA’s instigation as a result of the collective ban imposed on Russia’s track and field athletes by the IAAF.
Isinbayeva’s election to the IOC’s Athletes’ Committee is therefore an act of high symbolism, showing the extent to which outside the Western world the whole doping scandal is seen for what it is: a politicised lynching of Russian athletes and of the Russian Olympic Team by WADA and its backers in the West.
The Russians are already saying as much. TASS reports that Russian Olympic Committee President Alexander Zhukov told journalists that Isinbayeva’s election
“……is a serious lesson to the IAAF leadership, who doubted that she was ‘clean’. It is a response of athletes from all parts of the world who voted for Lena. This is a victory for Lena and a victory for Russia. Under the current circumstances, the athletes of the world, in fact, voted for Russia. We had looked forward to the decision and hoped for the victory. Today, it is extremely important for her and for her country that the Olympians had elected her at a time when she was banned from competing in the Olympics for some far-fetched reasons.”
What this episode underlines is the extent to which the West – and in particular the English speaking part of the West – deludes itself when it supposes that it speaks for the whole world.
On the contrary the world outside the West sees the present confrontation between the West and Russia in a completely different way from the way the Western media presents it.
Far from seeing Russian athletes as cheats many people in the world outside the West sees them for what they are really are: victims of the West in this affair. Enough athletes at Rio obviously share this view and feel sufficiently strongly about it to ensure that Isinbayeva got elected.