DENTON (UNT), Texas — John Nauright, professor and chair of the University of North Texas Department of Kinesiology, Health Promotion and Recreation, weighed in on today’s decision by the International Olympic Committee to bar Russia from participating in the 2018 games.
“For the sports world this is complex,” said Nauright. “It means the most successful winter Olympic country in history will not be allowed to participate in Korea. Just last week the International Ice Hockey Federation voted to allow Russia to participate as it found no proof of hockey players doping. The IOC penalty is based on evidence from 2010 to 2015, so it’s punishing current athletes for previous offenses. The Russians have taken steps to reform RUSADA, the Russian anti-doping lab. The key question is whether there is current evidence of doping and whether this remains systemic.”
Nauright added the Russia ban to a number of issues already impacting the 2018 games in PyeongChang from tension between the U.S. and North Korea to the NHL’s decision not to participate. Nauright, who along with Young Hoon Kim, an associate professor in UNT’s Department of Hospitality and Tourism Management, has been specifically studying ways to grow the popularity of ice hockey, also noted the sanctions against Russia don’t mean Russian athletes alone are prone to doping scandals. Nauright also questioned which governing body polices the World Anti-Doping Agency.He asks, should we penalize current athletes for the sins of their predecessors? Nauright also suggests elimination of all national affiliation in favor of focusing on the best athletes in each sport globally could be a solution to the games’ scandals.
“My suggestion of a permanent training site for world elite athletes, an Olympic United Nations of Sport facility, would achieve more of the aims of the Olympic movement, the goals of WADA and protect both profits and perceptions of integrity,” he said.