Russia turning Olympics into 'horror film' as US anti-doping chief weighs in on medal row

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Russia turning Olympics into 'horror film' as US anti-doping chief joins medal row - GETTY IMAGES
Russia turning Olympics into 'horror film' as US anti-doping chief joins medal row - GETTY IMAGES

Russia's involvement in the Olympic Games has been branded a "horror film" by a leading anti-doping official after a British swimmer questioned whether he was racing "clean" athletes.

Luke Greenbank, who won a bronze behind gold medallist Russian Evgeny Rylov, had supported second-placed Ryan Murphy in voicing strong concerns.

Their outburst came just hours after MPs and campaigners had branded Russia's involvement "a sham", given they remain technically banned for doping violations. In a statement sent to Telegraph Sport, Travis Tygart, chief executive of the United States Anti-Doping Agency, wrote that the situation in Tokyo was like rewatching a "horror film". "All can now see this ban once again for the farce that it is," he added.

In 2019 the World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada) banned Russia from all international sport for failures regarding the handing over of lab data. However, Russian athletes not implicated in doping were cleared to compete as neutrals, and 335 of them have been sent to Tokyo, wearing the traditional red, white and blue. Renewing calls for an overhaul in the system, Mr Tygart added: "It is barely a rebrand and will do nothing to stop the corruption in Russia and likely will embolden others willing to win by any means. This surely has to serve as yet another call for a new, honest global anti-doping system that lives by the Olympic values and has the courage to stand up for fair sport."

The gold in the pool for Russia on Friday meant Great Britain has now been denied a total of four medals by the so-called ROC (Russian Olympic Committee). After American swimmer Murphy raised concerns about finishing behind Rylov, Team GB’s Greenbank added: "Obviously, there’s a lot of media around the Russian federation coming into the Olympics. Obviously it’s frustrating seeing that as an athlete, having known that there is a state-sponsored doping programme going on and more could be done to tackle that."

Watch: The countries that have been banned from the Olympics

Amid increasingly tense scenes around the banned nation's involvement in Tokyo, Russian officials reportedly moved to remove a tennis journalist from asking about the scandal. The Telegraph was unable to verify that claim. The only effective punishment Russia is facing here is that its national flag and national anthem remain banned. Russia’s Anti Doping Agency (Rusada) had been declared non-compliant for manipulating laboratory data handed over to investigators in January 2019.
The nation was initially given a four-year ban by Wada, but, in December last year, it was cut two years by the Court of Arbitration for Sport. 

Mr Tygart said: “Of course, it is not fair to call into question any individual athlete’s performance and all are presumed innocent unless and until proven otherwise. The world including athletes from Russia has been let down and deserve better."

However, he added: "The world deserves to know whether anything has really changed in Russia and how many more times at the world’s biggest stage we are going to potentially re-watch this fraud.”  

Russian Olympics success slammed as Great Britain lose out on further medals in Tokyo

By Tom Morgan and Lucy Fisher

Russia's Olympic ban is a sham, MPs and anti-doping experts said after Great Britain was denied a third medal in Tokyo. The team, competing under a different name while the country serves a ban for drug violations, denied double former champion Helen Glover a bronze.

Team GB's gymnasts missed out on a bronze and silver medals in the team men's and women's events to the ROC (Russian Olympic Committee). In 2019 the World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada) banned Russia from all international sport for failures regarding the handing over of lab data. However, Russian athletes not implicated in doping were cleared to compete as neutrals, and 335 of them have been sent to Tokyo, wearing the traditional red, white and blue.

To rub the salt in for Britain, the nation is currently two places, and three golds, ahead, in fourth place in the medal table. While Team GB refused to be drawn on the issue, Global Athlete, a pressure group for reform, joined Conservatives in angrily attacking the decision to let Russia into the Games.

"I can understand the frustration from athletes," Rob Koehler, director general of the athlete-led charity, told Telegraph Sport. "The reality is Russia continues to make a mockery of both the anti-doping system and the judicial powers in place to enforce it."

Watch: Bribery and corruption at the Olympics

The only effective punishment Russia is facing here is that its national flag and national anthem remain banned. Russia’s Anti Doping Agency (Rusada) had been declared non-compliant for manipulating laboratory data handed over to investigators in January 2019. The nation was initially given a four-year ban by Wada, but, in December last year, it was cut two years by the Court of Arbitration for Sport. Conservative MPs heaped criticism on the approach, insisting it meant Russia had ultimately evaded punishment for the doping scandal.

Tory MP Bob Seely, vice-chair of the all-party parliamentary group on Russia, told The Telegraph: "The Russians are competing normally to all extents and purposes apart from a few superficial bits and pieces. It is ridiculous that effectively you can get caught in the mother of all doping and corruption scandals and you get a slap on the wrist. It’s very poor, it’s the subversion of international institutions."

Tobias Ellwood, Tory chairman of the Commons defence committee, said: "If you are going to punish a country for breaching rules, then the entire country has to feel it, so the punishment must be seen to work. What’s illustrated in Tokyo is Russia by-passing the punishment by having their nation represented in a different guise."

He added that for regimes such as Moscow and Beijing, hosting and participating in the Olympics is an important tool to project soft power. "The games are now being utilised by superpowers to achieve international recognition and acceptability on the global stage," he said.

Glover, who made history as the first mother to compete in rowing for Great Britain at an Olympics, came agonisingly close to a medal in the women's pair with partner Polly Swann, a junior doctor who will be back out on the NHS front line at Borders General Hospital in Scotland "this time next week". 

Russian Olympics success slammed as Great Britain lose out on further medals - TELEGRAPH
Russian Olympics success slammed as Great Britain lose out on further medals - TELEGRAPH

For Helen, it was time to send "lots and lots of hugs and kisses" to her three children Logan, three, and 18-month-old twins - a boy, Kit, and a girl, Bo - who she was breastfeeding in the middle of training.

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