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The Russian Olympic Doping Scandal: The End of the Affair?

Alexander Mercouris

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Despite considerable backstairs pressure the International Olympic Committee has decided – as was widely expected – to reinstate the Russian Olympic Committee after the end of the PyeongChang Winter Games despite two Russian athletes failing doping tests.

The International Olympic Committee seems to have accepted that these two doping violations were individual cases and were not evidence of any larger doping conspiracy in Russia.

I should say that on balance I think this is correct.  Two extremely shrewd observers of the international scene – Rick Sterling and The Saker – have both expressed the opinion that the doping violations might have happened because the athletes’ food or drink was spiked by those who want to prevent Russia’s reinstatement in the Olympic movement.

That is far from being a farfetched theory, but it is necessary to say that there is no actual evidence that it happened, and people do from time to time do bad and stupid things.

As to where the opposition to Russia’s reinstatement has come from that has been made all too clear by the comments of Adam Pengilly, the British Olympic Committee’s representative on the International Olympic Committee, who has recently been forced to resign after being sent home from PyeongChang following an altercation with a security guard.

Speaking to the Times of London, here is what Pengilly is reported to have said

When athletes cheat deliberately they get a four-year ban, when a national Olympic committee cheats deliberately it may yet get only a two-and-a-half-month ban.  I don’t see that as justice and I don’t see that as an appropriate ban for Russia.

(bold italics added)

What is or should be concerning about these comments is that as a former member of the International Olympic Committee Pengilly must presumably know that the highlighted words are untrue.

The International Olympic Committee’s own Schmid commission has said in its report that there is no evidence that any member of the Russian Olympic Committee was involved in any doping conspiracy in Russia, and that no one is suggesting that any members of the Russian Olympic Committee were

The IOC DC notes that neither the IC’s nor the IP’s Reports mentioned the participation of the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) in the system.  No findings appeared during the IOC DC’s investigation to contradict these statements.

Pengilly’s comments however are all of a piece with Western commentary about the scandal.

It continues to be said ad nauseam that the existence of a government organised state sponsored doping conspiracy in Russia has been “proved” whereas the Schmid Commission actually said the opposite, and it continues to be said that the Russian Olympic Committee was involved, even though the Schmid Commission has said that it wasn’t.

This constant and unchallenged repetition of things which are not true calls into question whether the Russian Olympic Doping Scandal really is over, as both the International Olympic Committee and the Russians apparently hope.

WADA remains implacably hostile, and continues to insist that Russia accept the McLaren report in its entirety as a condition for having its national anti-doping laboratory (‘RUSADA’) reinstated.

This is despite the fact that WADA has admitted that RUSADA conforms to the highest possible standards, and also despite the fact that Professor McLaren has admitted to the Schmid Commission that he has no evidence that Russia’s Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko or other member of Russia’s government had any actual knowledge of the doping violations that were going on.

Meanwhile Dr. Grigory Rodchenkov – the corrupt scientist at the centre of the doping scheme – continues to be hailed by the Western media as a ‘whistleblower’ and hero.

During the PyeongChang Games he was repeatedly interviewed by the Western media – disguised in various bizarre costumes supposedly in order to protect himself from (non-existent) threats to his life – with his various claims of Russian state involvement in the doping conspiracy endlessly repeated and accepted as true.

In not one of the interviews of Dr. Rodchenkov that I have seen was he asked about the failure of the Schmid Commission to substantiate his claims of a government organised state sponsored doping conspiracy in Russia.  Nor was he asked to respond to what the Schmid Commission says about his corrupt dealings in the past.

Moreover so far as I am aware the decision of the International Association of Athletics Federations (“IAAF”) to suspend the Russian Athletics Federation – making it impossible for Russian track and field athletes to compete in most international competitions – remains in effect.

All that unfortunately makes it very likely that come the next Summer Olympics in Tokyo in 2020 the Russian Olympic Doping Scandal will in some form be revived, and we will see a repetition of the same thing all over again.

In truth no one in my opinion comes out well from this affair.

WADA has been exposed as a grossly partisan body, committed to preserving the dominant position of Western sports bodies in international sports, and supporting Western political agendas.

Perhaps the only good thing that has come out of this scandal is that WADA’s gross partiality has finally been exposed, causing WADA to come under growing criticism, for example in this courageous letter to IOC President Thomas Bach by Hein Verbruggen, an honorary member of the International Olympic Committee.

Note that in this letter dated 13th October 2016 Verbruggen – as well as calling out the public smearing and bullying WADA and its leaders habitually engage in – has this to say about where WADA’s loyalties lie

This WADA leadership (appointed by the IOC, which is the cynical part of the story) usually teams up with a small group of (mainly) Anglo-Saxon NADO’s (USA, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, United Kingdom and Norway/Scandinavia on the sideline) and this has created a division that has allowed the same people to stay at the helm for a way too long period.

This “coalition” can also be seen from the composition of the WADA committees (including panels and expert groups) as published on WADA’s website.

Please note:

– there are 11 WADA committees and 9 (!) of them are chaired by people from Anglo-Saxon countries, obviously the most important committees;

– there are in total 112 members and 56 of them are from Anglo-Saxon countries and 10 are from Scandinavia (so 66 out of 112);

– from the 11 WADA committees, 7 have a majority of Anglo-Saxons and 2 more have a majority of Anglo-saxons and Scandinavians;

– members from Canada and the USA are abundantly present.

The International Olympic Committee however hardly comes out much better than WADA.

Though the intense skepticism about WADA’s claims of a “Russian state sponsored doping conspiracy” on the part of the IOC’s officials is now a matter of public knowledge (see for example this excellent article in Oriental Review describing the often heated correspondence between WADA and the IOC’s Christophe de Kepper) and though the International Olympic Committee’s own Schmid Commission essentially cleared Russia of WADA’s charges that a state sponsored doping conspiracy had taken place, the International Olympic Committee nonetheless suspended the Russian Olympic Committee, imposed a lifetime ban on Russia’s former Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko (against whom the Schmid Commission admits no evidence of wrongdoing has been found) and prevented scores of Russian athletes attending the PyeongChang Games, insisting that those who did attend should not do so under their own flag.

Moreover when the International Olympic Committee’s decision to impose lifetime bans on 28 Russian athletes was reversed by the Court of Arbitration for Sport – a court which the International Olympic Committee has itself created – the response of its President Thomas Bach was to abuse and threaten the court and refuse to carry out its decision.

It is difficult to avoid the conclusion that the International Olympic Committee – deeply compromised by the commercialisation of the ongoing Olympic Movement – capitulated before threats from US companies to withdraw sponsorship and advertising unless the Russians were banned.

That is of course a total betrayal of the Olympic Movement, which shows how far from the ideals of its founder Baron Pierre de Coubertin it has strayed.

As for the Russians, they need to ask themselves some hard questions about how such a deeply compromised and corrupt individual as Dr. Rodchenkov was allowed to gain control of RUSADA despite his activities having already previously been exposed as a result of earlier Russian investigations.

There has never been any proper explanation for this.

I will here state my view that if the focus of McLaren’s investigation had been on finding out the reasons for Dr. Rodchenkov’s bizarre appointment as head of RUSADA instead of fantasising about a gigantic government organised state sponsored doping conspiracy in Russia no evidence for which (apart from Dr. Rodchenkov’s claims) exists, some good would have been done, and some Russian officials would have come out highly embarrassed.

That of course never happened because McLaren chose instead to treat Dr. Rodchenkov as his star witness and as a hero and ‘whistleblower’.

Lastly, the Russians need to ask themselves whether their repeated attempts to host international sports competitions are worthwhile.

On both occasions that Russia has hosted the Olympics – the Summer Games in Moscow in 1980, the Winter Games in Sochi in 2014 – the result has been a scandal, with powerful forces in the West on both occasions pulling out all the stops to ruin Russia’s party by sabotaging the Games.

Beyond this Russia’s enemies have twice used President Putin’s love of sport to take action which is contrary to Russia’s interests.

The first time was in 2008 when Georgian President Saakashvili made use of Putin’s absence in Beijing to attend the Summer Games to launch an attack on South Ossetia, and the second time was in 2014, when during Putin’s absence from Moscow attending the Winter Games in Sochi the Maidan coup in Kiev took place.

There must now be real concern that the same sort of provocations will repeat themselves this year whilst the World Cup is underway in Russia.  Already there has been underway for years now a steady drumbeat of claims that Russia obtained the right to host the World Cup corruptly, even though no evidence of this has ever been found.

As for the Russian Olympic Doping Scandal, I am sorry to say that I think it is only in remission and that is far from over.  I think it is only a question of time before it comes back.

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De-Dollarization Tops Agenda at Russia’s Eastern Economic Forum

The Eastern Economic Forum (EEF) was held in Vladivostok on Sept.11-13. Founded in 2015, the event has become a platform for planning and launching projects to strengthen business ties in the Asia-Pacific region.

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Via Strategic Culture

This year, the EEF brought together delegations from over 60 countries to discuss the topic “The Far East: Expanding the Range of Possibilities”. A total of 100 business events involving over 6,000 participants were held during the three days.

1,357 media personnel worked to cover the forum. Last year, the number of participants was 5,000 with 1,000 media persons involved in reporting and broadcasting. The EEF-18 gathered 340 foreign and 383 Russian CEOs. Nearly 80 start-ups from across South-East Asia joined the meeting.

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This year, a total of 175 agreements worth of 2.9 trillion rubles (some $4.3 billion) were signed. For comparison, the sum was 2.5 trillion rubles (roughly $3.7 billion) in 2017.

They included the development of the Baimsky ore deposits in Chukotka, the construction of a terminal for Novatek LNG at Bechevinskaya Bay in Kamchatka and the investment of Asian countries in Russia’s agricultural projects in the Far East.

Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF), Mail.Ru Group, Megafon and Chinese Alibaba inked an agreement on establishing AliExpress trade joint venture. Rosneft and Chinese CNPC signed an oil exploration agreement.

The Chinese delegation was the largest (1,096 people), followed by the Japanese (570 members). The list of guests included the president of Mongolia and prime ministers of Japan and South Korea.

It was also the first time Chinese President Xi Jinping attended the event to meet his Russian counterpart. The issue of de-dollarization topped the agenda. Russia and China reaffirmed their interest in expanding the use of national currencies in bilateral deals.

During the forum, Kirill Dmitriev, the head of RDIF, said the fund intends to use only national currencies in its transactions with China starting from 2019. It will cooperate with the China Development Bank.

This “yuanification” is making visible progress with Shanghai crude futures increasing their share of oil markets up to 14 percent or even more. China has signed agreements with Canada and Qatar on national currencies exchange.

READ MORE: Eastern Economic Forum opens new chapter in US-Russia dialogue

De-dollarization is a trend that is picking up momentum across the world. A growing number of countries are interested in replacing the dollar. Russia is leading the race to protect itself from fluctuations, storms and US-waged trade wars and sanctions.

Moscow backs non-dollar trade with Ankara amid the ongoing lira crisis. Turkey is switching from the dollar to settlements in national currencies, including its trade with China and other countries. Ditching the US dollar is the issue topping the BRICS agenda. In April, Iran transferred all international payments to the euro.

The voices calling for de-dollarization are getting louder among America’s closest European allies. In August, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas called for the creation of a new payments system independent of the US.

According to him, Europe should not allow the United States to act “over our heads and at our expense.” The official wants to strengthen European autonomy by establishing independent payment channels, creating a European Monetary Fund and building up an independent SWIFT system.

Presenting his annual program, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker called on Sept. 12 for the European Union to promote the euro as a global currency to challenge the dollar.

According to him, “We must do more to allow our single currency to play its full role on the international scene.” Mr. Juncker believes “it is absurd that Europe pays for 80 percent of its energy import bill – worth 300 billion euros a year – in US dollars when only roughly 2 percent of our energy imports come from the United States.” He wants the raft of proposals made in his state of the union address to start being implemented before the European Parliament elections in May.

70% of all world trade transactions account for the dollar, while 20% are  settled in the euro, and the rest falls on the yuan and other Asian currencies. The dollar value is high to make the prices of consumer goods in the US artificially low. The demand for dollars allows refinancing the huge debt at low interest rates. The US policy of trade wars and sanctions has triggered the global process of de-dollarization.

Using punitive measures as a foreign policy tool is like shooting oneself in the foot. It prompts a backlash to undermine the dollar’s status as the world reserve currency – the basis of the US economic might. The aggressive policy undermines the US world standing to make it weaker, not stronger.

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Putin and Erdogan Plan Syria-Idlib DMZ

What the Putin-Erdogan DMZ decision means is that the 50,000 Turkish troops occupying Idlib will take control over that land, and have responsibility over the largest concentration of jihadists anywhere on the planet.

Eric Zuesse

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As I recommended in a post on September 10th, Russia’s President Vladimir Putin and Turkey’s President Tayyip Erdogan jointly announced on September 17th, “We’ve agreed to create a demilitarized zone between the government troops and militants before October 15. The zone will be 15-20km wide,” which compares to the Korean DMZ’s 4-km width. I had had in mind the Korean experience, but obviously Putin and Erdogan are much better-informed about the situation than I am, and they have chosen a DMZ that’s four to five times wider. In any case, the consequences of such a decision will be momentous, unless U.S. President Donald Trump is so determined for there to be World War III as to stop at nothing in order to force it to happen no matter what Russia does or doesn’t do.

What the Putin-Erdogan DMZ decision means is that the 50,000 Turkish troops who now are occupying Idlib province of Syria will take control over that land, and will thus have the responsibility over the largest concentration of jihadists anywhere on the planet: Idlib. It contains the surviving Syrian Al Qaeda and ISIS fighters, including all of the ones throughout Syria who surrendered to the Syrian Army rather than be shot dead on the spot by Government forces.

For its part, the U.S. Government, backed by its allies and supported in this by high officials of the United Nations, had repeatedly threatened that if there occurs any chemical-weapons attack, or even any claimed chemical-weapons attack, inside Idlib, the U.S. and its allies will instantaneously blame the Syrian Government and bomb Syria, and will shoot down the planes of Syria and of Russia that oppose this bombing-campaign to conquer or ‘liberate’ Syria from its Government. The U.S. has announced its determination to protect what one high U.S. official — who is endorsing what Trump is doing there — “the largest Al Qaeda safe haven since 9/11.” He admits it, but he wants to protect them from being bombed by Syria and by Russia.

During recent weeks, the U.S. military has increasingly said that even if the jihadists they’ve been assisting to assemble the materials for a chemical-weapons attack fail to carry it out or to stage one, any attempt by Syrian and Russian forces to destroy the jihadists (which the U.S. side calls ‘rebels’) in Idlib will be met with overwhelming U.S.-and-allied firepower. That would spark WW III, because whichever side — Russia or U.S. — loses in the Syrian battlefield will nuclear-blitz-attack the other side so as to have the lesser damage from the nuclear war and thus (in military terms) ‘win’ WW III, because the blitz-attack will destroy many of the opposite side’s retaliatory weapons. In a nuclear war, the first side to attack will have a considerable advantage — reducing the number of weapons the other side can launch.

If, on the other hand, the DMZ-plan works, then Turkey’s forces will be responsible for vetting any of Idlib’s residents who try to leave, in order to prohibit jihadists and their supporters from leaving. Once that task (filtering out the non-dangerous inhabitants and retaining in Idlib only the jihadists and their supporters) is done, the entire world might be consulted on whether to exterminate the remaining residents or to set them free to return to the countries from which they came or to other countries. Presumably, no country would want those ‘refugees’. That would answer the question.

America’s Arab allies, the oil monarchies such as the Sauds who own Saudi Arabia and the Thanis who own Qatar, and which have funded Al Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood, would then be put on a spot, because if they say “Exterminate them!” then their clergy who have provided the moral imprimatur upon those families’ ownership of those nations, will either be in rebellion or else will themselves become overthrown either by their own followers or else by their monarch — overthrown from below or from above.

Alternatively, after Turkey’s forces in Idlib will have allowed release from Idlib of all who will be allowed out, Syria’s and Russia’s bombers will simply go in and slaughter the then-surrounded jihadists and take upon themselves the responsibility for that, regardless of what the leaders of the U.S. and its allied governments might say.

On the night of September 17th in Syria, there were missile-attacks “from the sea” against several Syrian cities; and those attacks could have come from either Israel’s or America’s ships, or from other U.S.-allied ships. Russian Television bannered, “Russian plane disappears from radars during Israeli attack on Syria’s Latakia – MoD” and reported:

A Russian military Il-20 aircraft with 14 service members on board went off the radars during an attack by four Israeli jets on Syria’s Latakia province, the Russian Defense Ministry said.
Air traffic controllers at the Khmeimim Air Base “lost contact” with the aircraft on Wednesday evening, during the attack of Israeli F-16 fighters on Latakia, said the MOD.Russian radars also registered the launch of missiles from a French frigate in the Mediterranean on the evening of September 17. …
The attack on Latakia came just hours after Russia and Turkey negotiated a partial demilitarization of the Idlib province

If the missiles were authorized by President Trump, then WW III has already begun in its pre-nuclear stage. However, if the attacks were launched by Israel’s Netanyahu, and/or by France’s Macron, without U.S. authorization, then the U.S. President might respond to them by siding against that aggressor(s) (and also against what he used to call “Radical Islamic Terrorists”), so as to prevent a nuclear war.

Late on September 17th, Al Masdar News bannered “NATO warships move towards Syrian coast” and reported “The NATO flotilla cruising off the Syrian coast reportedly consists of a Dutch frigate, the De Ruyter, a Canadian frigate, the Ville de Quebec, and a Greek cruiser, the Elli.” Al Qaeda and ISIS have influential protectors.

Ultimately, the decision will be U.S. President Trump’s as to whether he is willing to subject the planet to WW III and to its following nuclear winter and consequent die-off of agriculture and of everyone, in order to ‘win’ a nuclear war, such as America’s aristocracy has especially championed since the year 2006. The nuclear-victory concept is called “Nuclear Primacy” — the use of nuclear weapons so as to win a nuclear war against Russia, instead of to prevent a nuclear war. That concept’s predecessor, the “Mutually Assured Destruction” or “M.A.D.” meta-strategy, predominated even in the U.S. until 2006. Trump will have to decide whether the purpose of America’s nuclear-weapons stockpiles is to prevent WW III, or is to win WW III.

In Russia, the purpose has always been to have nuclear weapons in order to prevent WW III. But America’s President will be the person who will make the ultimate decision on this. And Idlib might be the spark. Netanyahu or Macron might be wanting to drag the U.S. into war even against Russia, but the final decision will be Trump’s.

The ultimate question is: How far will the U.S. go in order to continue the U.S. dollar as being the overwhelmingly dominant global currency?

—————

Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of  They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of  CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.

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Russian MoD: Il-20 downed by Syrian missile after attacking Israel’s F-16s used it as cover

Israeli pilots used the Russian plane as cover and set it up to be targeted by the Syrian air defense forces.

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Russia has stated that it “reserves right to response” after claiming that Israel’s actions led to downing of Il-20 by Syrian S-200 missiles.

The Russian military accused their Israeli counterparts for causing the downing of a Russian Il-20 plane by the Syrian air defense forces, which were responding to an Israeli air raid on Latakia.

Via RT


The Russian military say the Israeli raid on Syria triggered a chain of events, which led to the shooting down of a Russian Il-20 plane by a Syrian S-200 surface-to-air missile. Moscow reserves the right to respond accordingly.

On Monday evening four Israeli F-16 fighter jets attacked targets in Syria’s Latakia after approaching from the Mediterranean, a statement by the Russian defense ministry said on Tuesday. The Israeli warplanes came at a small altitude and “created a dangerous situation for other aircraft and vessels in the region”, it said.

The military said the French Navy’s frigate “Auvergne” as well as a Russian Il-20 plane were in the area of the Israeli operation.

“The Israeli pilots used the Russian plane as cover and set it up to be targeted by the Syrian air defense forces. As a consequence, the Il-20, which has radar cross-section much larger than the F-16, was shot down by an S-200 system missile,” the statement said.

The Russian ministry stressed that the Israelis must have known that the Russian plane was present in the area, which didn’t stop them from “the provocation”. Israel also failed to warn Russia about the planned operation in advance. The warning came a minute before the attack started, which “did not leave time to move the Russian plane to a safe area,” the statement said.

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