Athletic ban on Russia falls short



December 12, 2019 - 9:50 AM

Russian athletes participate during the opening ceremony of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The World Anti-Doping Agency unanimously agreed to ban Russia from major international sporting competitions for four years.

International anti-doping regulators say they’ve had it with Russian cheating and have banned the country from international competition for four years. That includes the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo and the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing. What does that ban really mean?

Well, imagine the Russian volleyball team wins gold. The team takes the podium. But because of the ban, the athletes aren’t wearing Russian uniforms. Instead, they don whatever drab, understated garb signifies being neutrals from nowhere in particular. No Russian flag goes up the flagpole, no Russian anthem fills the arena.

Back in Moscow, what do you think Russian President Vladimir Putin’s reaction would be? A seething scowl? A fist slam onto his desk? Our guess is a wide, beaming smile and a celebratory swig of the best vodka rubles can buy.

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