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Russia stripped of Olympic medals over doping

Posted November. 29, 2017 08:50,   

Updated November. 29, 2017 09:13


In the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, Russia enjoyed a glorious success by rising to the first place in the medal standings with a total of 33 medals (13 gold, 11 silver and nine bronze). The glory, however, has proven short-lived as many of the country’s Olympic champions have been disqualified over doping.

As of Tuesday, the total number of medals earned by Russia stood at only 22, according to the International Olympic Committee (IOC), putting the country at the fifth place following the United States (28 medals), Norway (26), Canada (25) and the Netherlands (24). Still, Russia’s ranking can fall even further because its athletes are continuously being stripped of their medals one after another.

Since Alexander Legkov, a cross-country skier who won the men’s 50-kilometer gold in Sochi, became the first Russian athlete disqualified early this month, a total of 19 athletes have been banned from the Olympics for life and 11 medals have been annulled until today. This means one third of the medals Russia won in its homeland back in 2014 were the result of cheating. What’s worse, the country still faces a possibility that another four of its gold medals can be cancelled.

It was in November of 2015 that the host country of the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics was first accused of state-backed doping when the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) released a report claiming that Russia carried out systematic and extensive doping of its athletes by swapping urine samples and tampered bottles. Such suspicion was proven true with the exposure of former Moscow anti-doping laboratory director Grigory Rodchenkov, who is now living in the United States under FBI protection.

The IOC will hold an executive committee on Dec. 5 and decide on whether Russia will be banned from participating in the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics next February.

Heon-Jae Lee uni@donga.com