Staunton, February 16 – While it is certain to attract less attention than did Vladimir Putin’s bombastic claims of athletic supremacy at the time of the Sochi Olympiad six years ago, the International Biathlon Union yesterday disqualified two Russian athletes for doping, stripped them the medal their team won, and cost Russia first place in the national medal count.
To win medals, Moscow engaged in a widespread, covert, and illegal program of doping in advance of the Sochi Games and other international athletic competitions. It has now been exposed and over time has lost many of the medals it claimed at the time. And it is likely to lose even more in the future (mnews.world/ru/doping-lishil-rossiyu-liderstva-na-olimpiade-v-sochi/ and atr.ua/news/196238-rossiu-lisili-pervogo-mesta-v-medalnom-zacete-olimpiady-2014).
As a result, Putin’s great victory in 2014 just like the outcomes of many of his other projects has turned out to be Pyrrhic or worse. Indeed, the actions he took to achieve it have cast a pale over all Russian athletes including those who were not involved. And dispelling that will take longer than it has for those who were to be found out and punished.
Indeed, it is entirely possible that this is a harbinger for Putin’s reputation as well. He may have impressed many by his boldness and willingness to break the rules; but he and his country may discover that over time, boldness isn’t enough and breaking the rules ultimately if not quickly has unexpectedly negative consequences.