Morning Free Association: Banned

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On Tuesday, the International Olympic Committee banned Russian athletes from competing under the Russian Federation flag for the upcoming Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea. Why? Widespread state-sponsored doping by Russian athletes.

The decision by the IOC is based upon the Schmid Report (also known as the Schmid- Oswalt Report) that detailed the forensic analysis of hard drives and evidence provided by Dr. Grigory Rodchenkov, former director of the Moscow Laboratory. The report itself is 30 pages, the first 10 being mostly abstract to setup for the juicy stuff. So far I’ve made it through about 15 pages and I can tell you some of the more interesting parts:

  • Two managing members of RUSADA, the Russian Anti-Doping Agency, died in February 2016, within two weeks of each other. Could be coincidence but it’s still weird
  • There was a sample switching scheme that involved replacing caps in such a way that the sample looked to be undisturbed. Also, sample densities were altered by using salts in quantities that a healthy human would not excrete into a urine sample
  • Samples were analyzed and determined to have either “Save” or “Quarantine” attached to them when the results were shared by email. Those samples labeled “Quarantine” were often non-Russian athletes while the “Save” samples were, you guessed it, Russian Federation athletes.

Yeah, it’s riveting. In case you don’t want to read all that, there is a documentary about this doping scandal on Netflix.

So what does this mean exactly to us? Russia does not have a hockey team that can compete. The KHL won’t release their players to play for their national teams either, so many many European teams will be without their best professional players. Maybe the youthful USA team made up of college players and former NHLers have a chance to win gold?

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