Come From Away: Russia’s absence at the Olympics

    (Caitlin Dutt/AQ)

    During the opening ceremony of PyeongChang Winter Olympics, 169 Russian athletes marched in grey uniforms under the Olympic flag.

    The Olympic Athletes of Russia are the result of one of the worst doping scandals in sports history.

    At the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics and 2016 Rio Olympics, numerous Russian athletes tested positive for having performance-enhancing drugs in their system. Forty-one Olympic medals were stripped from Russian athletes as a result, but that’s not all Russia lost.

    It also lost its chance to participate in the 2018 Winter Olympics.

    Rita Dorofeeva, a first-year hockey player from Moscow at St. Thomas University, feels sorry for her country and believes doping is not fair for athletes.

    “There are different types of doping,” said Dorofeeva. “If doping is for building muscles or building strength, that’s unfair. Some doping is for your own health, which is prescribed by the doctor.”

    Dorofeeva grew up in Russia, and has been playing hockey for 10 years. As a powerful competitor in winter sports, Russia has led hockey, ice skating, skiing and snowboarding for years. The doping scandal affected many Russian athletes, and Dorofeeva is not happy with the consequences.

    “No one really knows the truth. Russia said one thing, [the International Olympic Committee] said the other,” said Dorofeeva.

    According to her, the whole system between athletes and doctors in Russia is not very clear.

    “[The doctors] didn’t say that you are doping, so the athletes just kept doing it,” Dorofeeva said.

    “Yes, it is athletes’ fault, but it’s also the organization’s fault and people who gave them dopes,” said Dorofeeva.

    As a student athlete herself, Dorofeeva said she is upset when people are getting their medals taken away, because these athletes have worked their whole life fighting for themselves and their country.

    The mission of the Olympics is “to build a peaceful and better world in the Olympic Spirit which requires mutual understanding with a spirit of friendship, solidarity and fair play.” As far as the violation and conspiracy stand, Dorofeeva hopes politics will forever stay away from the sports.

    “It is always about politics, and it is always about economy,” said Dorofeeva.

    “I just want sport to be its own thing, especially with the stuff people say about Russian politic and things we did wrong. Athletes should never be affected by what the Russian government did or does.”

    “I hope that next Olympics we can compete under our flag,” said Dorofeeva.

    “The Olympic[s] [are] not the same without Russia.”


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