THIS SUMMER Russian high star Marija Lasitskene wrote in desperation an open letter to Vladimir Putin. Together with two other world champions in athletics, she asked the Russians’ Great Father to intervene directly in the country’s long-standing doping dispute with the outside world so that she could still compete internationally.
Now the answer has come, and it does not give the Lasitskene and the other Russian sports heroes much hope:
- Russia refuses to give in to international pressure. In practice, they reserve the right to cheat as before, and weed out their own critics.
This week, the troublesome Yuri Ganus, head of the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA), was removed from his job. The official explanation is financial mess, but regardless of details about taxi bills and trips abroad that became too expensive, it is tricky to interpret the firing as something other than that the Russian authorities do not want sporting reconciliation with the rest of the world.
With Ganus out of work, they have got rid of another critic.
THIS this time it happened in the mildest possible way. Last week, the report came from the Russian Special Commission set up to check online rumors about the RUSADA chief’s spending:
– All I can say at the moment is, unfortunately, that what we feared has been confirmed, said the head of the Russian Olympic Committee Stanislav Pozdnjakov when he presented an audit report recommending that he fire RUSADA chief Yuri Ganus.
Exactly the «fearWas hardly that big. For a long time, outspoken Ganus has challenged the leadership in Russian sports.
TRULY one does not go unpunished. When the scale of the Russian Sochi scam began to become known in the winter of 2016, two former central RUSADA employees suddenly died mysteriously in just a few weeks. At the same time, some Russian politicians demanded that the defector Grigory Rodchenkov – the mastermind behind Russia’s fraud that had fled to the United States – be tracked down and executed as the defector they thought he was.
Several times the clear Yuri Ganus has been asked by international reporters if he too is not afraid:
– This is dangerous, but it’s my job, he told the news agency AFP when the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) late last autumn again banned the Russians from international sports and Ganus raged against the politicians who had allowed another manipulation of the material in the doping laboratory in Moscow.
AFTER that Yuri Ganus became head of RUSADA in 2017, no one in Russia has been so direct in his criticism of the country’s rotten sports morale than him. He seemed so different and honest that the international anti-doping experts have discussed whether Ganus really only played a double role – that he acted as a false facade in a Russian prank.
Last autumn, the RUSADA boss took a deadly historic confrontation with Russian sports at a ski seminar in Trondheim:
– Scams. Just scams, he concluded, and was more right than the astonished audience knew.
Shortly afterwards, it became known that the Russian authorities had again cheated with doping tests in the famous ex WADA-approved laboratory in Moscow.
And Ganus was just as ruthless towards them. While Russia struggled with the outside world to compete internationally again, the RUSADA chief fought with the attitudes among his own.
Given the strong position of elite sports in a centrally controlled Russian system, such an internal disagreement could not last.
GIVES rumors this summer began to circulate online about the mess in RUSADA’s economy, Ganus guessed where this would end:
– We expected such attacks because some are unhappy with what we have done, he told the international press, adding:
– The question is why do they do there? RUSADA actively cooperates to correct the errors that the outside world points out. We have talented, young employees that we are proud of. It’s not very popular here, he concluded.
The kicking suggests that it was a precise conclusion.
FOR Russia has been replaced by a new setback. It gives no confidence that Russian sports can decide for themselves who will be in charge of what is meant to be an independent national control. Thus, RUSADA again has no credibility, and in November, the ruling of the Sports Arbitration Court (CAS) on Russia will be excluded from all major championships.
The management of WADA has requested the audit report that allegedly felled Yuri Ganus. They want to look at the Russians in the cards, but are hardly allowed. The outside world is still waiting for the Russians’ own report on what was really going on in Sochi. That report is not public.
ALT this means that Marija Lasitskene will hardly be able to jump high in the championship again. Russian athletics has been given a new deadline of 15 August to pay the World Athletics fine of approx. NOK 60 million in order to have the opportunity to continue competing with some so-called “neutral” athletes.
But even if the money comes, even Russia’s biggest athletics stars no longer believe that anything will help. To that end, they have seen too much of what dark forces really reign in Russian elite sports, and how the home country refuses to take the consequences of its own fraud:
– This is just a new prank on the practitioners from those who really should have taken care of us, an angry Marija Latsitskene told TASS yesterday.
For again, it is the Russians themselves who choose to isolate themselves.
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