Russia’s absence from the 2022 world wrestling championships was easy to feel. America won more medals than any other country in the world by a mile. Iran had much more success than normal. Most of all it gave smaller countries the opportunity to compete for third at most weight classes. Countries like Azerbaijan and Romania found unpredicted success. While Russia’s absence may have made it more fun to watch, it was done for the wrong reasons.
Russia was suspended for its government’s actions in Ukraine. While nobody will argue that the Russian government is guilty in Ukraine, this sets a dangerous precedent. We have heard about keeping politics out of sports here in America for a while, but that has mostly been for protests and political symbols worn by players. While it’s understandable to be upset or in support of kneeling for the anthem, this is taking politics in sports to a whole new level.
Russian athletes had no choice or power on Russia’s actions. The athletes are probably putting themselves in danger if they do choose to speak out against the government. In the world of chess there has also been a similar debate around what to do. Mostly, tournaments have allowed russian players, but in some cases players making pro russians comments have been suspended. That could have been a fair solution. In the UFC, they were afraid of backlash when Russian fighters would display their flag. They chose to not allow fighters to have flags at all. This also could have been implemented. There were so many options that were less extreme than just an outright ban.This isn’t to say that I don’t agree with the ban though, it was just done for the wrong reasons. Russia has been systematically doping their athletes and skirting anti doping policies for years. As the documentary Icarus shows, it’s not just a few athletes. Almost every single one of Russia’s athletes were on the juice. What has the Olympic committee done about it? Nothing. Russia is still allowed to compete, just under the name of the Russian Olympic Committee. Really big difference there. Lance Armstrong has been stripped of almost every title he’s ever one. Bary Bonds isn’t allowed in the baseball hall of fame. Yet we’re allowing athletes we know are doping to continue competing.