Suspended: How The Russian Federation Worked To Overcome Their National Ban For Olympic Glory

By Kaitlin Armstrong

Staff Writer

Russia was missing from the Winter Olympics, preventing the world from seeing a Russian flag raised at any point for their ever-talented athletes.

When most people think of the Winter Olympics, they think of Russia, China, America and all of the other powerhouses. Russia was the overall medal winner in Sochi four years ago, but now the doping scandal has tainted that accomplishment, forcing viewers to question if that medal count is deserved.

Due to the ban placed on the Russian Federation last December, all Russian athletes were forced to compete under the Olympic Athletes from Russia collective title, OAR for short. As a result, these athletes had to walk out under the Olympic flag and hear the Olympic anthem if they were to reach the podium.

All due to the state-sponsored doping allegations from the Sochi Games, these Russian athletes were unable to represent their country on the biggest stage of them all.

“I think that this punishment was a lesson to all other countries that mass doping will not be tolerated,” said Tara Lunsford, sophomore. “It will be interesting to see what they do about all the medals they won in Sochi.”

All clean athletes were allowed to compete for OAR, but athletes that were not found clean had to stay home for these Games. According to CBS, there were a number of Russian athletes who said prior to the Games that they would not compete unless they stood under the Russian flag. It seemed as if a majority of the athletes came around and chose not to pass up on the opportunity of a lifetime to compete in PyeongChang.

From curler Anastasia Bryzgalova to the entire men’s hockey team, the Russians had significant talent at the 2018 Winter Olympics.  From the start, these carefully vetted athletes showed their prowess, garnering multiple medals in the first few days of competition.

“I feel like it was unfair to the countries that have not doped or been in scandals,” said Katie Tiell, senior. “The whole country should have been banned for these Olympics and should not have been allowed to compete at all,” said Tiell.

Like Tiell, many hope to see the system receive much-needed changes in the coming years. For Canadian Olympic Committee President Tricia Smith, the process regarding Russia has highlighted the glaring problem areas for the International Olympic Committee.

“We are at a time where people want this thing fixed,” Smith told The Canadian Press. “It is not where we want to be in sports, but we are catching people who are cheating now.”

This ban did not stop fans from wearing Russian colors and waving the Russian flag to support their athletes. Without a doubt, the country showed extreme dedication to their athletes throughout this controversial process.

Now that the Olympics have come to an end, the Russians can only look forward, thankful for the opportunity to garner a few medals in South Korea while under an international ban.

Kaitlin Armstrong

Kaitlin Armstrong is a senior studying communications and emerging media. Originally from Atlanta, Ga., she shadowed the Atlanta Falcons’ community relations department in 2016. Armstrong hopes to use that experience to gain additional internships.

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