NNOC sympathises with Russian athletes

By Michael Uugwanga

THE Namibian National Olympic Committee (NNOC) sympathises with Russia on that country’s total ban by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA); in particular innocent athletes that have been affected by the ban for the next four years for overdoping.

The ban means that Russia as a country will not be allowed to partake at next year’s Olympic Games, the 2025 world championship, Beijing Winter Olympic Games scheduled for 2022 due to an alleged years-long cheating scheme that has tarnished sports, rendered Russia a sports pariah and exacerbated tension between Moscow and the West.

The ban comes four years after the first details of a conspiracy that peaked at the 2014 Sochi Olympics were made public, and only months after more recent revelations of a failed Russian cover-up that involved the manipulation of test results. The punishment was hailed by some as a tough step, though many declared it insufficient as a deterrent; some critics and athletes have called instead for a blanket ban with no exceptions.

On the other hand, Russian football is not affected by the ban as Russia’s men soccer team can still can qualify and participate in soccer’s 2022 World Cup, provided team members are cleared of doping, though its team would have to wear neutral uniforms.

The Russia Athletics Federation was slapped with a fine of U$5 million (around N$83.55 million) and required to settle the amount by July 1 2020, however they failed to settle the required amount, jeopardising the chances of the track and field athletes being able to compete internationally as neutrals.

NNOC president Abner Xoagub said, “We should understand the principles of WADA as we all realise that not all athletes were part of the doping. We have sympathy for those innocent athletes.  Russian athletics federation, WADA and the Russian government needed to sit down and clear the system on how innocent athletes can participate not as Russians but as a refugee team because under IOC there is a refugee team.  The Russia government could have also come in and assisted the Russian athletics federation financially.”

Namibia which has recorded a number of doping cases notably in rugby has cooperated well with WADA.

In 2016, Namibian former national team rugby player, Arthur Bouwer was banned for four years by World Rugby after testing positive for an anabolic steroid, while former Namibia’s U20 player Cameroon McNab was also banned for four years for doping.

“We are fully in support of WADA programmes as a country. Since we do not have an anti-doping agency in the country, the NNOC was given the mandate by WADA to act as an anti-doping agency. Therefore, the Ministry of Sport, Youth and National Service will second a full-time employee who will be focusing on doping,” said Xoagub.