TOKYO — Travis Tygart, the CEO of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, slammed the International Olympic Committee and world anti-doping leaders for their “attempt to pull the wool over the world’s eyes by claiming Russia is ‘banned’” from these Olympics.
Russia engineered a state-sponsored doping program for at least several years last decade, yet hundreds of Russia athletes are competing at the Tokyo Games under the “Russian Olympic Committee” label. The bulk of the punishment, decided by the Court of Arbitration for Sport last December, is that the Russian flag and anthem have been banned from medal ceremonies, but hundreds of Russian athletes are still competing here in white-blue-and-red uniforms.
Their controversial involvement in the games exploded to the fore on Friday when U.S. swimmer Ryan Murphy, after losing to Russia’s Evgeny Rylov for a second time this week, said that his race was “probably not clean.”
Murphy never explicitly mentioned Russia or accused Rylov of doping. In a statement to Yahoo Sports, Tygart, the U.S. anti-doping chief, said, “Of course, it is not fair to call into question any individual athlete’s performance and all are presumed innocent unless and until proven otherwise.”
But Tygart, who previously called the CAS decision “devastating,” claimed that Russia, for “perpetrating the original fraud beginning years ago and continuing to cover-up that fraud,” deserved harsher consequences.
“All can now see this ‘ban’ once again for the farce that it is,” Tygart said in the statement to Yahoo Sports. “It is barely a ‘rebrand’ and will do nothing to stop the corruption in Russia and likely will embolden others willing to win by any means.”
In fact, it seems to have already emboldened Russia. The Russian Olympic Committee on Friday posted a photo of Murphy and other athletes who’d implicitly or explicitly discussed doping, and said: “How unnerving our victories are for some of our colleagues. Yes, we are here at the Olympics. Whether someone likes it or not. The old barrel organ started the song about Russian doping again. English-language propaganda, oozing with verbal sweat in the Tokyo heat. Through the mouths of athletes offended by defeats. We will not console you. Forgive us, those who are weaker. God is their judge. And for us — an assistant.”
Tygart, in his statement, said that the insufficient punishment has allowed Russia “to make a mockery of the Games by their thirst for medals over values.”
Tygart also called for anti-doping reforms both broad and specific. “We have called for all tests on individual athletes in all sports from all countries be made public as our U.S. athletes’ tests results are, but especially Russia given its proven corrupt system,” he said. “The world deserves to know whether anything has really changed in Russia and how many more times at the world’s biggest stage we are going to potentially re-watch this fraud.”
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