Mendoza: Doping still hounds Olympics

Al Mendoza
·2 min read

SINCE 2015, Russia’s track and field athletes remain banned from Olympic competitions because of doping.

But the International Olympic Committee (IOC) may soon lift the suspension as the Russian Athletic Federation (RAF) is “edging closer” to being cleared to play sooner than expected.

In a recent breakthrough decision, Russian athletes will be allowed to compete internationally again — not under the Russian flag but, rather, under a neutral flag instead.

According to an AP dispatch last week, the World Athletics Council (WAC) voted to revive the Authorized Neutral Athlete (ANA) scheme granting individual exemptions from the suspension after vetting the athlete’s drug-testing record.

If finally approved, 10 Russians may yet make it to the Tokyo Olympics in July, including three-time high jump world champion Mariya Lasitskene and former world hurdles king Sergei Shubenkov.

“We will start that [vetting] process immediately,” said WAC president Sebastian Coe. “It’s arduous work. The doping review panel work long hours to do this, they’ve done it successfully in the past and the process is under way.”

It helped that the RAF has prepared a road map for anti-doping reforms, including encouraging Russian whistle-blowers to come forward.

The RAF’s plan also includes an admission of “an extensive doping and covering-up culture involving athletes, coaches and officials arising from inheriting post-Soviet doping culture aimed at winning by all means, including doping.”

Yes, it has become a culture — this doping business.

But while many of the world’s celebrated athletes from First World countries were found guilty of doping to end up cheap cheats in the end, to our credit, not one of our Filipino Olympic athletes has ever tried doping.

That explains why we have stopped winning non-boxing medals since the heydays of Teofilo Yldefonso, Simeon Toribio and Miguel White. Yldefonso won bronze in swimming in the 1928 Amsterdam Olympics, Toribio high jump bronze in the 1932 LA Olympics and Miguel White the 400-m men’s hurdles bronze in the 1936 Berlin Games.

Back in those days, doping was as Greek as zooming, ensuring a level playing field for all?

You bet.