This is not a chain of random, unrelated to each other, events. It's a deliberate and carefully planned campaign to discredit all Russian sports in general and Russian athletes in particular.
"Meal'n'Real!" (Latin: panem et circenses.) is an expression from the 10th satire of the Roman poet and satirist Juvenal used to describe the contemporary aspirations of the Roman people. The phrase was used to describe the policy of statesmen who, bribing plebs by the distribution of money and products, as well as circus performances, seized and held power in ancient Rome.
Over the last two thousand years, the world has not changed. That, in general, is not surprising. Human nature does not change. As before, the people are demanding bread and circuses. This is true in any type of society: both democratic and totalitarian. But in totalitarian societies the desire of the people to receive their portion of "bread and circuses" is manifested, for some reason, much brighter. Probably, largely because the totalitarian regimes gradually start to have problems with bread, so the spectacle should at least a little brighten up a very sad existence of the nation.
Putin's Russia has already developed a dictatorial regime. It developed gradually in recent years in our eyes. In 2016, it can be regarded as finally prevailing. And as in the past few years the lack of "bread" in the broadest sense of the word has become clearer, the need for spectacles becomes more vital for the regime. And this is one of its weaknesses.
Not surprisingly, the international community repeatedly hits very painful blows to this weak point. Nor is it surprising that every such blow is accompanied by a true hysteria of the official propagandists. Following the example of other articles, I will execute each campaign as a single episode for readability.
Episode 1: Meldonium
World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) on September 16, 2015 included meldonium (aka mildronat) in the list of prohibited for use by athletes in competition and contest seasons, with the start of the ban from January 1, 2016.
Scandal with Russian athletes broke out in March. Suddenly it became clear that the use of this drug by Russian athletes is massive. It was about a dozen athletes a variety of sports. The result of the scandal was the disqualification of many Russian athletes. So there was the first big stain on the reputation of the Russian sports and Russian athletes.
Episode 2: a Blow to Athletics
Beginning this episode was laid long before the outbreak of the scandal that caused to draw conclusions in relation to the Russian sports and Russian athletes.
On December 3, 2014 the German broadcaster ARD showed a documentary film "Top-secret Doping: How Russia makes its Winners". In the film, one of the former employees of the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA) said that the use of doping by the Russian athletes doping had long been systematic.
On August 1, 2015 the same ARD showed its second live documentary "The Doping Secret: The Shadowy World of Athletics", devoted to doping in world athletics. In particular, the makers of the film noted that in the period from 2001 to 2012, more than 80% of the medals in the endurance competitions at the Olympic Games and world championships won by the Russians were unfair. At the same time, the British newspaper Sunday Times called Russia "world's doping center."
Even the first film led to the fact that back in early 2015, on the advice of several national organizations, WADA formed a commission to investigate the use of doping in Russia. The first part of the commission report was published on November 9, 2015. It contained allegations of massive and systematic concealment of doping among the Russian athletes.
Based on these findings, WADA suspended the accreditation of the Russian Anti-Doping Agency's Moscow laboratory (RUSADA). International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) decided to suspend Russia from the competitions under its auspices for an indefinite period. Also suspended was the membership of the Russian athletics federation (ARAF) in the IAAF. This made it impossible for the Russian national team to participat in Athletics at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. Also, Russia was deprived of the right to host the World Team Cup Race Walking in Cheboksary and the Athletics World Junior Championships in Kazan. Besides, the Russian athletes were not able to perform at the Athletics World Indoor Championships 2016, which was held in Portland on 17-20 March, 2016.
On January 14, 2016 was published the second part of the report of the independent WADA commission, in which the main emphasis was made on corruption in the IAAF. In particular, it referred to the connection of the former head of the IAAF Lamine Diack with Vladimir Putin.
On May 12, 2016, The New York Times published an article "Russian insider said that the Olympic gold is energized by the state doping" based on an interview of Grigoriy Rodchenkov to reporters Rebecca Ruis and and Michael Skvortz. According to this article, Rodchenkov said about the existence of Russia's state-doping program.
On March 6, 2016, was released the third film by ARD: "The Doping Secret: Russia Red Herrings"
On May 19, 2016, WADA announced that Professor Richard McLaren, Canadian sports lawyer, invited as an independent person to lead a group to investigate the allegations of Grigoriy Rodchenkov.
On June 17, 2016, the IAAF Council, based on WADA guidelines, upheld its decision to disqualify VFLA.
The first part of McLaren's report was published on July 18, 2016. The conclusion of the investigation was a damnation for the Russian sport. It was argued that the Russian authorities, and, in particular, the Ministry of Sports of the Russian Federation, covered doping of the Russian athletes at the Olympics 2014 in Sochi. It was argued that there was state support doping program in the Russian Federation before the start of the Olympic Games in Sochi, during the Olympics and after the Olympics. It has been argued that the FSB was involved in the "active participation". It was argued that "the Ministry of Sports guided, controlled the manipulation of the results of checks and the substitution of athletes' doping tests."
The result was the complete removal of Russian athletes from the summer Olympic Games in 2016 in Brazil. Also, all Russian athletes, who had ever been caught doping, didn't take part in the Games. In October 2015, the president of the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC), Alexander Zhukov, very cheerfully announced at the meeting of the executive committee of the ROC that "According to experts, the composition of our team will be about 420 to 450 people." At a meeting of the Executive Committee on July, 2016, there were only about 387 athletes in 30 sports activities. In reality, however, only 269 people (excluding spare, reserve and athletes overrepresented in the extended squad in team sports) went to the Olympics. That is, a third less than originally planned.
Episode 3: a Blow to Winter Sports
By the summer of 2016 it was clear that all doping investigation against Russia would be slow and sedative, with feeling and arrangement. As they say, it was decided to cut the tail piece by piece to make it as much painful for the Russian sports and Russian athletes as possible.
The report of the independent WADA Commission consisted of two parts. The first part was published on November 9, 2015; the second part was published on January 14, 2016. Then WADA formed McLaren Group, which prepared its report. It also consisted of two parts. The first part was published on July 18, 2016, the second part was published on December, 2016.
So, on December 9, 2016, was published the second part of the McLaren's report. In it, as in the first part published in the summer, there was evidence for the existence of the state system in the Russian Federation to conceal positive doping tests.
The report stated that at least 12 medalists of the Olympic Games in Sochi might had been taking doping. In addition, the report described 31 biathletes, somehow connected with doping stories.
It was noted that the Moscow anti-doping laboratory used a sure way to avoid disqualification for doping, despite the fact that the sampling was carried out by international doping officers. More than 500 false reports of the samples were transferred to Moscow laboratory in the electronic system of the WADA.
The Anti-Doping Laboratory in Sochi also used special method to substitute urine samples, which allowed the Russian athletes to participate in the Olympic Games. In Sochi laboratory, the substitution was made at night through the hole in the wall, to hide it from foreign observers present in the laboratory. The process of substitution was supervised by the FSB officer, who worked under the guise of a plubmer in Bilfinger service company.
Ministry of Sports guided the manipulation of the results of analyzes, with the active participation and assistance of the Federal Security Service, Center for Athletic Training of Russian Teams and laboratories in Moscow and Sochi.
The consequence of the publication was that on December 11 (just two days after the publication the Latvia's skeleton team announced that it would boycott 2017 World Cup for bobsled and skeleton in Sochi because of the doping scandal. In a special statement published on the official website of the Latvian team, in particular, it was said: "As long as our federation is still going to "read and interpret" (McLaren's) report, we will do what we can. We will be happy to participate in a world championship on any track, but we will not take part in the world Cup in Sochi. Russia is the place where the Olympic spirit was stolen in 2014". Two days later (December, 13) South Korean bobsleigh and Austrian bobleigh and skeleton national teams joined the boycott. In just a few days before the publication of the report (December, 5), it was reported that the American team plans to boycott, too. So it is not surprising that after the boycott was announced by the fourth team, The International Federation of Bobsleigh and Skeleton joined in. On December 13 it announced the postponement of 2017 World Cup bobsleigh in Russian Sochi.
On December 22 the International Skating Union (the ISU) as recommended by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) decided to postpone the final stage of World Cup Speed Skating Championships in Chelyabinsk, which was scheduled for 10-12 March 2017. "The Council of ISU came to the conclusion that in this difficult time and under extraordinary circumstances it would be prudent not to organize an ISU event (Chelyabinsk), changing its previous position in this regard. With respect to the competition, which is scheduled in Russia for the season-2017/18, the Council organization has decided to closely monitor the developments and take a decision in early 2017."
On December, 22, there was an emergency meeting of the International Biathlon Union (IBU) on the "Russian issue". The officials discussed possible sanctions against the Russian Biathlon Union and 31 national athletes. Without waiting for quite predictable decisions, the RBU canceled the ninth stage of the World Cup (Tyumen, 9-12 March) and World Championship among youth and juniors (Ostrov, on 22 February - 2 March). In the last days before the meeting, a number of biathlon powers announced their intention to boycott the Tyumen stage in view of the unsolved problems with doping in Russia. Among the initiators of the ultimatum were the United Kingdom, Norway, Sweden, France, Czech Republic.
Thus, international sports federations begat to carry out the IOC recommendations for a full cessation of cooperation with Russia. The corresponding statement was made by the IOC a few days before the publication of the second part of the McLaren's report. Officials of the International Olympic Committee made similar proposals in the summer, against the background of the first part of the McLaren's report of the McLaren, but were ignored by the federations.
Episode 4: a Blow to the FIFA World Cup
All previous sanctions were only a prelude to an inevitable stripping away of the Russian right for the World Cup in 2018. The West is a steamroller. It needs heating for a long time. Sometimes it even seems that the Western democracies are blind to obvious crimes. This is a false impression. Delayed reactions are caused not by the stupidity of Western elites, but by the need to build consensus. So as it is accepted in all democratic countries. But when the decision is made, it is executed with the inexorability of a bulldog.
Athletics, skating, bobsleigh, even biathlon not really impress the Russians. This is not the most popular sports. Significant international competitions in these sports are held quite often. Another thing is football. It is popular. World Championships are held every four years. In Russia, there has never been a world cup. Just look at the archival footage when the election results were announced: how happy the Russian officials were when our country was named. This is the cherry on the cake of Russian sport.
So, the preparation to strip Russia off the right for the World Cup in 2018 began a long time ago.
In 2015, the international football federation (FIFA) saw a corruption scandal broke out, which culminated in the initiation of criminal cases against six members of the executive committee. These people (attention!) are responsible for the choice of countries for the championships. Four have already confessed that took money. FIFA president Sepp Blatter was forced to resign. And he, among other things, is considered to be a great friend of Russia and President Vladimir Putin. Another great friend of Russia and Vladimir Putin personally (UEFA president Michel Platini) was suspended from participation in the election of the new president of FIFA. The football federation is left without our friends. This is a very bad sign.
Putin is credited with the phrase, that it (the corruption scandal in FIFA) is a "dirty provocation against the organization, and nobody would dare to take away Russia's right for the 2018 World Cup." The source of the phrase is not clear. Whether it has been ever artucilated is not known. But there is no smoke without fire. Putin (whether he said this phrase or not) all understood correctly: the work on the exclusion of Russia from the organization of the World Cup in 2018 started.
The former head of WADA, Dick Pound, on July 23, 2016 called for a shift of the world championship to another country in 2018. "In the last year and a half the FIFA had big problems with the reputation. Russia and its doping scandals is another ethical problem the FIFA will have to fight," said Dick Pound to ABC agency. And he added: "In Europe, and not only in Europe, there are enough countries can get ready for the World Cup, if notified two years before".
British newspaper The Daily Mail on December 18, 2016, citing unnamed sources, reported that the FIFA Ethics Committee began a preliminary investigation against the president of the Russian Football Union, the vice-premier of the Russian government and the former Minister of Sport Vitaly Mutko. The FIFA said: "If the report [McLaren] would reveal the violations of the FIFA Code of Ethics, the Investigation Chamber shall take the necessary measures and inform about it."
Mutko himself trying to remain optimistic. Thus, on August 12, 2016 he said: "I know that there will be attempts [to cancel the World Cup], but I'm not scared, because there is no reason to take away the World Cup from us". On December 20, he said: "It is possible in the morning to wake up (and hear): I'll take the World Cup away from you. What does it mean? Pay and take it. From our point of view, it is insured. For how much? That's our business" .
He may make as many bold statements as he want. The "to be or not to be" question with regard to the World Cup in 2018 in Russia does not depend on him. Everything points to the fact that the World Cup will not take place in Russia.