Russian Pres. Vladimir Putin has just signed brand-new anti-doping policies into affect, outlawing more performance-enhancing drugs, creating more stringent testing protocols, and more aggressively going after those that try to subvert international standards of competition. These new measures will legally go into effect on June 20.
While Pres. Putin has been very vocal about keeping performance-enhancing drugs out of competition, especially state-sponsored competition like the Olympic team that has been dogged by steroid allegations for years and years, before signing this new anti-doping policy he was very vocal about the section encouraging whistleblowers to come forward.
Putin has always been anti-whistleblower (in all aspects of life), but this time highlighted the fact that Russia has a long history of aggressively treating whistleblowers very poorly. He made mention of a moment in time in the 1930s when the Soviet Union executed individuals that were training the then Olympic team and accused of doping by neighbors, though the charges ended up being rather trumped up.
The Russian government in particular make sure that the public remains cautious about whistleblowing attitudes, and reinforce the fact that the most beneficial goal for everyone involved in athletics is to go to work, put in the time to train, and dedicate yourself to producing the best possible results without any performance-enhancing drugs assisting along the way. To this end, Putin wants to see a zero-tolerance attitude towards the doping community and wants to guarantee that the Russian teams will always – always – compete cleanly.
Recognizing that the Independent Public Anti-Doping Commission has already done a tremendous amount of work fighting back against performance-enhancing drugs in sport, Pres. Putin and other members of the Russian government wanted to make sure that these independent bodies are completely funded and prepared to deal with any and every performance-enhancing drug of eventuality.
The Russian president understands that the fight against performance-enhancing drugs can never truly be one (especially since there are so many new drugs flooding the market on a regular basis), but he remains dedicated to improving testing protocols, to improving transparency in the training of Russian national athletes, and agreeing to international standards of competition that creates as level a playing field as humanly possible.
The Russians have been trying to shed a bit of a specter over their shoulder in regards to their reputation as dopers for decades now. During the Cold War, most were under the impression that all members of the Russian Olympic Team were taking full advantage of performance-enhancing drugs – accusations that have never been conclusively verified or refuted, simply because expert testing protocols did not exist at that point in time.
However, these kinds of rumors have continued to dog the Russian national teams and Russian national athletes well into modern times. It wasn’t all that long ago, after all, that a number of Russian athletes were banned completely from international competition simply because they failed international standard performance-enhancing drug testing protocols.
Giving credit where credit is due, the Russian government has certainly stepped up their game when it comes to creating more independent and more transparent testing protocols for these kinds of situations. The Russian government has funded a variety of different independent organizations and allowed them total autonomy to investigate Russian athletes as they see fit, and today there testing program is one of the most robust anywhere in the world.
It’ll be interesting to see how things continue to shake out (especially with the Summer Olympics set for 2020, just shortly over 2 ½ years away) but it’s likely that we won’t have to witness any Russian performance-enhancing drug scandals leading up to those Olympics thanks to the new policy signed into place by Putin.