Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Deep Schmid: Russia NOC's Day of Reckoning

On Tuesday I walked out of a morning meeting to find my phone exploding with Olympic headlines.

The International Olympic Committee finally lowered the boom on Russia's National Olympic Committee, banning the NOC from competing in the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games. 

According to the IOC announcement, the decision came after close review of "The Schmid Report" compiled under the leadership of Samuel Schmid, former president of Switzerland. 

That's right: Russia's Olympic officials are in deep Schmid.

The reasons are well documented through amazing reporting by, and brave sources to, The New York Times, which identified and nudged the first, big dominoes on the Sochi Olympic doping scheme last year then kept up with the avalanche of crud, recently showcasing a vast diary of doping maintained before and during the Games of 2014. 

Now it is up to individual athletes, the Russia NOC and leaders in Russia Federation to determine who, if any, Olympic hopefuls from the world's largest nation may travel to South Korea in two months.

The Times published a great graphic of which sports/disciplines are to be most effected. 

I feel worst for the athletes who had no part in the scandal. It feels icky that so many wrongs still need to be righted in the Olympic record books for 2014, and that elite athletes from many winter sports must forge on with or without top clean contenders to push each other to bring their best in PyeongChang. 

Also kinda feel like the IOC finally got some guts after they slapped Russia on the wrist during the eve of Rio 2016. If they had bigger cojones, maybe a ban for Tokyo 2020 would also send a message. Only time will tell.

More personally, the scandal and today's IOC decision, which I think was apt, pretty much nixes the chance that one of my favorite Moscovite friends -- fellow Olympic-big band/jazz-English language-fine arts fan Valentina K., will seek a travel visa to meet me in Seoul in February (boo!). 

Guess we'll have to wait for "jazz hands" in Japan. 

Images via The New York Times, Getty Images and RussiaMaps.org

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