Officials in Moscow are on the defensive after the World Anti-Doping Agency found widespread steroid use among top Russian athletes and recommended banning the Track & Field team from the 2016 Olympics, according to the Wall Street Journal:
The 323-page report released Monday by the independent commission described a secret doping program allegedly run for at least the past five years by Russian government officials, physicians, coaches, and track-and-field athletes to give the country a prohibited edge in international competitions. The report said Russian athletes unwilling to participate in the program faced expulsion from their team and other threats.
“It’s worse than we thought,” Dick Pound, chairman of the three-person commission that prepared the report, said at a news conference in Geneva. “We found coverups, we found destruction of samples, we found payments of money in order to conceal doping tests.”
This may seem like a sideshow—bad PR for Russia, yet largely unrelated to geopolitics. But it’s no coincidence that President Putin defended FIFA head Sepp Blatter over the summer. The tougher international investigators are on corruption and cheating, the more Russian wrongdoing they are likely to find. The U.S. should encourage more such investigations, recognizing that they make life much harder for Russian oligarchs and politicians. Investigating international rule-breakers is a more pleasant and less costly way to counter Putin’s influence than direct engagement.