Why does Russia always cheat? 

By Ivanna Biryukova

“Today, at 4 o’clock in the morning, without any claims having been presented to the Soviet Union, without a declaration of war, German troops attacked our country, attacked our borders in many places and bombed our cities from their planes.” This is a quote by Vyacheslav Molotov, who announced the German invasion of the USSR in June 1941. 

Yesterday, at 5 o’clock in the morning, without a declaration of war, Vladimir Putin ordered an attack on Ukraine. 

However improbable this move may have seemed to many experts, a government that continuously sponsors a doping program despite having been penalized, cannot be trusted to make predictable and logical political decisions. 

During the 2022 Olympic Games in Beijing, Kamila Valieva and the coaching team behind her were investigated after the 15-year-old figure skater tested positive for a banned drug. Kamila is a student of Eteri Tutberidze, a coach with a track record of producing “disposable” athletes. 

Many skaters who trained under Tutberidze retired before reaching the age of 17. Her methods are ineffective for a long-term career, which is why Russia is home to some of the sport’s youngest World and Olympic champions, who quit after one or two major accomplishments and nothing more than a suitcase of ceased hopes of long-term success. 

The 2014 Sochi doping controversy also demonstrates that, for some reason, Russian coaches and sports associations have lost faith in their athletes’ ability to succeed without the use of performance-enhancing substances. If a Russian athlete enters the race for an international title, they have no choice but to participate in the illegal activities that have been enforced by the Russian government for many years (for a more in-depth look into the doping scandal watch “Icarus”, an Oscar-winning documentary on Netflix).

In an attempt to try and find proof that doping is not an exclusively Russian problem, I did some digging on this issue in my own country: Switzerland. A close friend and former Swiss figure skater told me: “The main goal of Russian figure skating is the pedestal. The girls show crazy results very quickly and burnout just as fast. A minimum age of 18 should be required to compete in elite events, as it is in many other sports. Because of the discrepancies in bodily development, the differences in results are so pronounced. Teenagers have different abilities to adults, point-blank.” To my question as to whether she had ever been offered any form of drugs, she said: “Absolutely not. And I don’t know anyone who has been.”

For various reasons, ex-athletes rarely discuss this, but numbers and facts speak louder — Russia cheats. It cheats quietly, almost shamefully, but it still does. During the Sochi Olympics, after every foreign supervisor had already left for the day, the testing lab swapped out incriminating urine tubes for clean ones and handed them over to FSS (Federal Security Service) agents through a hole in the wall. Thankfully, the cheating scheme was revealed by a whistleblower, and Russia was banned from competing under its flag. This did not, however, prevent Russian athletes from participating. The Russian Olympic Committee is now the official representative of Russian athletes at international events. For some, this halfway ban does not make sense, and rightfully so. As these Olympic Games have shown, this state-sponsored, all-permeating swindle is still very much intact. 

Russia doesn’t only cheat in sports. It cheats in much bigger, more influential international arenas – it cheats politically and morally. Vladimir Putin is not afraid to completely rewrite history for the sake of disruption and chaos. He will do everything to conquer and destroy. He will announce the return of his troops from a sovereign country where they were not supposed to be in the first place, only to send in more. In his eyes, he is no longer “just” a president – he is a puppeteer, playing with his Western counterparts from his big cosy castle. He is a king, an emperor. But in reality, Putin is nothing but a pathetic war criminal, afraid to look out of his gold-plated windows to witness the destruction he has caused in his country and is going to cause in Ukraine. He is nothing but a dictator, whose power lies in the apathy and tiredness of his people. 

In order to make sports fair again, to restore the rudiments of Russian democracy, to assure peace in Europe and save tens of thousands of Ukrainian lives, Putin and his gang must be held accountable. 

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