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    25 february, 2020

    On the situation surrounding the Italian police search of surging Russian biathlete

    Author: Mikhail Anichkin, no comments

    Over the past few years, a completely unfair, infinitely aggressive policy has been pursued by the world's sports organizations and - most importantly - by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) in regard to our athletes. The issues that are being discussed have long gone beyond the scope of purely sports and turned into politics. No country in the world has been subjected to such persecution and harsh conditions as Russia.

    There is a good Russian proverb: "In a stranger’s eye we see a speck, while in our eyes we don’t notice a log."

    Over the past two years, doping scandals involving athletes from other countries have shocked the world. Last year at the World Ski Championships in Austria, six skiers from three different countries (two from Austria, three from Estonia, one from Kazakhstan) were arrested by the police – they were caught red-handed (performing acts of doping). However, there were no condemnations or disciplinary actions on the part of WADA in relation to the sports organizations of these countries.

    From various sources, occasionally, cases are known when "virtuosos" from the coaching and support staff of sports teams from different countries stand out in their ability to create drugs that are prohibited and try to circumvent stringent control measures - and still there is no reaction from the world of sports.

    Great Britain is still ignoring WADA's requests for additional doping tests regarding two-time world champion in athletics Mo Farah. There are no consequences for this country’s Athletics Federation in connection with the anti-doping investigation against athletics coach Alberto Salazar. There have been several cases when athletes from various countries, caught using illegal drugs, got away by using doctor’s notes. All this testifies to the strategic line of international sports organizations and WADA to squeeze Russia out of international sports; step by step, consistent attempts are being made to start the process of persecuting Russian athletes. Any prohibition on participation in competitions under national symbols is already affecting not only the athletes themselves, but the state as well.

    Back in December 2017, when our team decided to go to the Olympics in South Korea under a neutral flag, the mastermind behind this idea, speaking during a meeting of the Commission on non-interference in the internal affairs of Russia in the Federation Council, put forward many questions that still remain unanswered today. In particular, why are our sports officials so indifferent and why is there so little support in regard to our athletes and sport? Why do we always make excuses and not take an offensive position? Why are we still paying unthinkable amounts as membership fees to those organizations that are openly pursuing an aggressive policy towards Russian sport? It was then that I called for a review of the forms of cooperation with the International Olympic Committee (IOC), if this continues further. We paid the IOC a fine of $15 million, but there are no results – only unproven accusations on our team and athletes.

    In addition, the Russian Olympic Committee is a public organization, and the activities of several international sports officials and organizations can be considered as counteracting Russian NGOs (sports federations).

    The other day there was a completely blatant incident with our leading biathlete Alexander Loginov. The Italian police conducted searches on February 22 in the hotel rooms of the athlete and his personal coach Alexander Kasperovich.

    Then after a long break the Russian team won a gold medal and it became a bolt from the blue for the international sports community, which, together with the so-called community of sports justice warriors, put an end to our biathlon aspirations long ago. That is why, from my point of view, such unprecedented cynical steps were taken to discredit our team, bring our athletes out of their normal psychological state, and violate all stages of preparation for subsequent sports competitions.

    I believe that all of us, including sports officials, need to decide: what do we do next? Again they say that our team is deprived of the right to attend competitions under national symbols. Let me remind you that the international community once voted Russia the successor state of the USSR. So our athletes could, as a joke, attend sports competitions under the symbols of the Soviet Union or even Tsarist Russia. Any situation can be transformed into absurdity, and every joke has some truth in it.

    It is necessary to file lawsuits, and not only with the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), but also in regular courts in terms of defamation of Russian athletes, particularly if there is no evidence of foul play or doping.

    But one should defend one’s national interests, including the right to appear under the flag and with the anthem of one’s country, at any venue, including sports venues. Any indulgence, any movement towards compromise will lead to unjustified moral and reputational losses for our sport and country in the future.

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