Russian athletes are used to standing on the Olympic podium with medals of honour around their necks. But this week’s allegations about doping have raised questions about their right to be in the games at all.
The scandal that broke out on Monday has exposed what could allegedly be a state-sponsored doping program in Russia.
The independent report, commissioned by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), has brought up the spectre of a ban on Russia from competing in the upcoming 2016 Olympics.
Some of the evidence has already been passed onto Interpol for further investigation. The most striking allegations describe the presence of Russian Secret Police at labs, of hundreds of samples being destroyed before key inspections, the use of fake IDs for doping tests, and of widespread bribery and extortion.
Lord Sebastian Coe, President of the IAAF, the world athletics governing body, has directed Russia to respond before the end of the week.
Though Russia has been on the defensive, calling the allegations false or else wildly exaggerated, the claims have raised enough of a hue and cry in the country that even President Vladimir Putin has ordered an investigation, saying he firmly believes in ‘fair play’.