Tess Hemmila—Staff Writer
Prior to the start of the Pyeongchang Olympic Games, the International Olympic Committee determined that Russia was to be barred from participating due to a major doping scandal in the 2014 Games.
Doping does not only enhance physical performance but can have serious consequences for the user’s health. Doping has been linked to the deaths of multiple athletes, across many disciplines. The death of Linas Rumsas, a 21-year-old cyclist who died of a heart attack in May 2017, was a particularly shocking example of the toll doping takes on athletes.
“Doping is responsible for many deaths of young athletes in their prime,” said biology professor Tony Jelsma.
Despite the ban, Russian athletes who could prove they were clean and uninvolved with the scandal were invited to compete in the Olympics as OARs. Olympic Athletes from Russia compete under the conditions that they do not wear Russian uniforms, the Russian flag will not be flown during opening ceremonies or the awarding of medals and the medals they earn will not be counted as Russian medals.
A group of 47 athletes and coaches, barred due to their participation in the doping scandal, attempted to petition the IOC for permission to participate in the games but were denied. However, a massive team of 169 Russian athletes that have qualified and agreed to the terms are competing in the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics.
The ban sets a high standard for behavior and the IOC’s decision; to uphold their ban will send a strong message to athletes of all nations.
“It [doping] gives a very unfair advantage,” said men’s soccer coach Craig Stiemsma. “As Christians, we want to maximize what God has given us, but doping crosses that line.”
There was some fear that this tense affair would cause unease among the athletes, but so far the OARs have competed without a hitch. In fact, they are receiving a lot of support from fellow athletes and fans, according to the New York Times.
At the time of publishing, since opening ceremonies on Friday, Feb. 9, the OARs have earned two medals: a silver and a bronze. The silver medal was awarded to the OAR figure skating team and the bronze to the short-track speed skater, Emina Malagich.