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

Alexander Mercouris




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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Is the Violent Dismemberment of Russia Official US Policy?

Neocons make the case that the West should not only seek to contain “Moscow’s imperial ambitions” but to actively seek the dismemberment of Russia as a whole.

The Duran



Authored by Erik D’Amato via The Ron Paul Institute for Peace & Prosperity:

If there’s one thing everyone in today’s Washington can agree on, it’s that whenever an official or someone being paid by the government says something truly outrageous or dangerous, there should be consequences, if only a fleeting moment of media fury.

With one notable exception: Arguing that the US should be quietly working to promote the violent disintegration and carving up of the largest country on Earth.

Because so much of the discussion around US-Russian affairs is marked by hysteria and hyperbole, you are forgiven for assuming this is an exaggeration. Unfortunately it isn’t. Published in the Hill under the dispassionate title “Managing Russia’s dissolution,” author Janusz Bugajski makes the case that the West should not only seek to contain “Moscow’s imperial ambitions” but to actively seek the dismemberment of Russia as a whole.

Engagement, criticism and limited sanctions have simply reinforced Kremlin perceptions that the West is weak and predictable. To curtail Moscow’s neo-imperialism a new strategy is needed, one that nourishes Russia’s decline and manages the international consequences of its dissolution.

Like many contemporary cold warriors, Bugajski toggles back and forth between overhyping Russia’s might and its weaknesses, notably a lack of economic dynamism and a rise in ethnic and regional fragmentation.But his primary argument is unambiguous: That the West should actively stoke longstanding regional and ethnic tensions with the ultimate aim of a dissolution of the Russian Federation, which Bugajski dismisses as an “imperial construct.”

The rationale for dissolution should be logically framed: In order to survive, Russia needs a federal democracy and a robust economy; with no democratization on the horizon and economic conditions deteriorating, the federal structure will become increasingly ungovernable…

To manage the process of dissolution and lessen the likelihood of conflict that spills over state borders, the West needs to establish links with Russia’s diverse regions and promote their peaceful transition toward statehood.

Even more alarming is Bugajski’s argument that the goal should not be self-determination for breakaway Russian territories, but the annexing of these lands to other countries. “Some regions could join countries such as Finland, Ukraine, China and Japan, from whom Moscow has forcefully appropriated territories in the past.”

It is, needless to say, impossible to imagine anything like this happening without sparking a series of conflicts that could mirror the Yugoslav Wars. Except in this version the US would directly culpable in the ignition of the hostilities, and in range of 6,800 Serbian nuclear warheads.

So who is Janusz Bugajski, and who is he speaking for?

The author bio on the Hill’s piece identifies him as a senior fellow at the Center for European Policy Analysis, a Washington, D.C. think-tank. But CEPA is no ordinary talk shop: Instead of the usual foundations and well-heeled individuals, its financial backers seem to be mostly arms of the US government, including the Department of State, the Department of Defense, the US Mission to NATO, the US-government-sponsored National Endowment for Democracy, as well as as veritable who’s who of defense contractors, including Raytheon, Bell Helicopter, BAE Systems, Lockheed Martin and Textron. Meanwhile, Bugajski chairs the South-Central Europe area studies program at the Foreign Service Institute of the US Department of State.

To put it in perspective, it is akin to a Russian with deep ties to the Kremlin and arms-makers arguing that the Kremlin needed to find ways to break up the United States and, if possible, have these breakaway regions absorbed by Mexico and Canada. (A scenario which alas is not as far-fetched as it might have been a few years ago; many thousands in California now openly talk of a “Calexit,” and many more in Mexico of a reconquista.)

Meanwhile, it’s hard to imagine a quasi-official voice like Bugajski’s coming out in favor of a similar policy vis-a-vis China, which has its own restive regions, and which in geopolitical terms is no more or less of a threat to the US than Russia. One reason may be that China would consider an American call for secession by the Tibetans or Uyghurs to be a serious intrusion into their internal affairs, unlike Russia, which doesn’t appear to have noticed or been ruffled by Bugajski’s immodest proposal.

Indeed, just as the real scandal in Washington is what’s legal rather than illegal, the real outrage in this case is that few or none in DC finds Bugajski’s virtual declaration of war notable.

But it is. It is the sort of provocation that international incidents are made of, and if you are a US taxpayer, it is being made in your name, and it should be among your outrages of the month.

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At Age 70, Time To Rethink NATO

The architect of Cold War containment, Dr. George Kennan, warned that moving NATO into Eastern Europe and former Soviet republics would prove a “fateful error.”

Patrick J. Buchanan



Authored by Patrick Buchanan via The Unz Review:

“Treaties are like roses and young girls. They last while they last.”

So said President Charles De Gaulle, who in 1966 ordered NATO to vacate its Paris headquarters and get out of France.

NATO this year celebrates a major birthday. The young girl of 1966 is no longer young. The alliance is 70 years old.

And under this aging NATO today, the U.S. is committed to treat an attack on any one of 28 nations from Estonia to Montenegro to Romania to Albania as an attack on the United States.

The time is ripe for a strategic review of these war guarantees to fight a nuclear-armed Russia in defense of countries across the length of Europe that few could find on a map.

Apparently, President Donald Trump, on trips to Europe, raised questions as to whether these war guarantees comport with vital U.S. interests and whether they could pass a rigorous cost-benefit analysis.

The shock of our establishment that Trump even raised this issue in front of Europeans suggests that the establishment, frozen in the realities of yesterday, ought to be made to justify these sweeping war guarantees.

Celebrated as “the most successful alliance in history,” NATO has had two histories. Some of us can yet recall its beginnings.

In 1948, Soviet troops, occupying eastern Germany all the way to the Elbe and surrounding Berlin, imposed a blockade on the city.

The regime in Prague was overthrown in a Communist coup. Foreign minister Jan Masaryk fell, or was thrown, from a third-story window to his death. In 1949, Stalin exploded an atomic bomb.

As the U.S. Army had gone home after V-E Day, the U.S. formed a new alliance to protect the crucial European powers — West Germany, France, Britain, Italy. Twelve nations agreed that an attack on one would be treated as an attack on them all.

Cross the Elbe and you are at war with us, including the U.S. with its nuclear arsenal, Stalin was, in effect, told. Hundreds of thousands of U.S. troops returned to Europe to send the message that America was serious.

Crucial to the alliance was the Yalta line dividing Europe agreed to by Stalin, FDR and Churchill at the 1945 Crimean summit on the Black Sea.

U.S. presidents, even when monstrous outrages were committed in Soviet-occupied Europe, did not cross this line into the Soviet sphere.

Truman did not send armored units up the highway to Berlin. He launched an airlift to break the Berlin blockade. Ike did not intervene to save the Hungarian rebels in 1956. JFK confined his rage at the building of the Berlin Wall to the rhetorical: “Ich bin ein Berliner.”

LBJ did nothing to help the Czechs when, before the Democratic convention in 1968, Leonid Brezhnev sent Warsaw Pact tank armies to crush the Prague Spring.

When the Solidarity movement of Lech Walesa was crushed in Gdansk, Reagan sent copy and printing machines. At the Berlin Wall in 1988, he called on Mikhail Gorbachev to “tear down this wall.”

Reagan never threatened to tear it down himself.

But beginning in 1989, the Wall was torn down, Germany was united, the Red Army went home, the Warsaw Pact dissolved, the USSR broke apart into 15 nations, and Leninism expired in its birthplace.

As the threat that had led to NATO disappeared, many argued that the alliance created to deal with that threat should be allowed to fade away, and a free and prosperous Europe should now provide for its own defense.

It was not to be. The architect of Cold War containment, Dr. George Kennan, warned that moving NATO into Eastern Europe and former Soviet republics would prove a “fateful error.”

This, said Kennan, would “inflame the nationalistic and militaristic tendencies in Russian opinion” and “restore the atmosphere of the cold war in East-West relations.” Kennan was proven right.

America is now burdened with the duty to defend Europe from the Atlantic to the Baltic, even as we face a far greater threat in China, with an economy and population 10 times that of Russia.

And we must do this with a defense budget that is not half the share of the federal budget or the GDP that Eisenhower and Kennedy had.

Trump is president today because the American people concluded that our foreign policy elite, with their endless interventions where no vital U.S. interest was imperiled, had bled and virtually bankrupted us, while kicking away all of the fruits of our Cold War victory.

Halfway into Trump’s term, the question is whether he is going to just talk about halting Cold War II with Russia, about demanding that Europe pay for its own defense, and about bringing the troops home — or whether he is going to act upon his convictions.

Our foreign policy establishment is determined to prevent Trump from carrying out his mandate. And if he means to carry out his agenda, he had best get on with it.

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Photos of new Iskander base near Ukrainian border creates media hype

But research into the photos and cross-checking of news reports reveals only the standard anti-Russian narrative that has gone on for years.

Seraphim Hanisch



Fox News obtained satellite photos that claim that Russia has recently installed new Iskander missile batteries, one of them “near” to the Ukrainian border. However, what the Fox article does not say is left for the reader to discover: that in regards to Ukraine, these missiles are probably not that significant, unless the missiles are much longer range than reported:

The intelligence report provided to Fox by Imagesat International showed the new deployment in Krasnodar, 270 miles from the Ukrainian border. In the images is visible what appears to be an Iskander compound, with a few bunkers and another compound of hangars. There is a second new installation that was discovered by satellite photos, but this one is much farther to the east, in the region relatively near to Ulan-Ude, a city relatively close to the Mongolian border.

Both Ukraine and Mongolia are nations that have good relations with the West, but Mongolia has good relations with both its immediate neighbors, Russia and China, and in fact participated with both countries in the massive Vostok-2018 military war-games earlier this year.

Fox News provided these photos of the Iskander emplacement near Krasnodar:

Imagesat International

Fox annotated this photo in this way:

Near the launcher, there is a transloader vehicle which enables quick reloading of the missiles into the launcher. One of the bunker’s door is open, and another reloading vehicle is seen exiting from it.

[Fox:] The Iskander ballistic missile has a range up to 310 miles, and can carry both unconventional as well as nuclear warheads, putting most of America’s NATO allies at risk. The second deployment is near the border with Mongolia, in Ulan-Ude in Sothern Russia, where there are four launchers and another reloading vehicle.

[Fox:] Earlier this week, Nikolai Patrushev, secretary of Russia’s Security Council, said authorities of the former Soviet republic are being “controlled” by the West, warning it stands to lose its independence and identity as a consequence. “The continuation of such policy by the Kiev authorities can contribute to the loss of Ukraine’s statehood,” Mr Patrushev told Rossiyskaya Gazeta, according to Russian news agency TASS.

This situation was placed by Fox in context with the Kerch Strait incident, in which three Ukrainian vessels and twenty-four crew and soldiers were fired upon by Russian coast guard ships as they manuevered in the Kerch Strait without permission from Russian authorities based in Crimea. There are many indications that this incident was a deliberate attempt on the part of Ukraine’s president Petro Poroshenko, to create a sensational incident, possibly to bolster his flagging re-election campaign. After the incident, the President blustered and set ten provinces in Ukraine under martial law for 30 days, insisting to the world, and especially to the United States, that Russia was “preparing to invade” his country.

Russia expressed no such sentiment in any way, but they are holding the soldiers until the end of January. However, on January 17th, a Moscow court extended the detention of eight of these captured Ukrainian sailors despite protests from Kyiv and Washington.

In addition to the tensions in Ukraine, the other significant point of disagreement between the Russian Federation and the US is the US’ plan to withdraw from the Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF). Russia sees this treaty as extremely important, but the US point of view expressed by John Bolton, National Security Adviser, is that the treaty is useless because it does not include any other parties that have intermediate range nukes or the capability for them, such as Iran, North Korea, and China. This is an unsolved problem, and it is possible that the moves of the Iskander batteries is a subtle warning from the Russians that they really would rather the US stay in the treaty.

Discussions on this matter at public levels between the Russian government and the US have been very difficult because of the fierce anti-Russia and anti-Trump campaigns in the media and political establishments of the United States. President Putin and President Trump have both expressed the desire to meet, but complications like the Kerch Strait Incident conveniently arise, and have repeatedly disrupted the attempts for these two leaders to meet.

Where Fox News appears to get it wrong shows in a few places:

First, the known range for Iskander missiles maxes at about 310 miles. The placement of the battery near Krasnodar is 270 miles from the eastern Ukrainian border, but the eastern part of Ukraine is Russian-friendly and two provinces, Donetsk and Lugansk, are breakaway provinces acting as independent republics. The battery appears to be no threat to Kyiv or to that part of Ukraine which is aligned with the West. Although the missiles could reach into US ally Georgia, Krasnodar is 376 miles from Tbilisi, and so again it seems that there is no significant target for these missiles. (This is assuming the location given is accurate.)

Second, the location shown in the photo is (44,47,29.440N at 39,13,04.754E). The date on the “Krasnodar” photo is January 17, 2019. However, a photo of the region taken July 24, 2018 reveals a different layout. It takes a moment or two to study this, but there is not much of an exact match here:

Third, Fox News reported of “further Russian troops deployment and S-400 Surface to air missile days after the escalation started, hinting Russia might have orchestrated the naval incident.”

It may be true that Russia deployed weapons to this base area in Crimea, but this is now Russian territory. S-400s can be used offensively, but their primary purpose is defensive. Troops on the Crimean Peninsula, especially at this location far to the north of the area, are not in a position strategically to invade Kherson Oblast (a pushback would probably corner such forces on the Crimean peninsula with nowhere to go except the Black Sea). However, this does look like a possible defense installation should Ukraine’s forces try to invade or bomb Crimea.

Fox has this wrong, but it is no great surprise, because the American stance about Ukraine and Russia is similar – Russia can do no right, and Ukraine can do no wrong. Fox News is not monolithic on this point of view, of course, with anchors and journalists such as Tucker Carlson, who seem willing to acknowledge the US propaganda about the region. However, there are a lot of hawks as well. While photos in the articles about the S-400s and the Russian troops are accurately located, it does appear that the one about Iskanders is not, and that the folks behind this original article are guessing that the photos will not be questioned. After all, no one in the US knows where anything is in Russia and Ukraine, anyway, right?

That there is an issue here is likely. But is it appears that there is strong evidence that it is opposite what Fox reported here, it leaves much to be questioned.

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