Why Russia Cares So Much About International Sport

Why Russia Cares So Much About International Sport

President Vladimir Putin wants Russian athletes to compete internationally again © Getty Images President Vladimir Putin wants Russian athletes to compete internationally again

With Russia's brutal invasion of Ukraine still in its second year, athletes are looking forward to getting back into the sport.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has recommended that athletes from Russia and Belarus be allowed to compete in upcoming international competitions as neutral.

This decision was a heavy blow to Ukraine, which strongly opposed its participation.

Like other countries, Russia seeks to use international sports to highlight the country's sportsmanship.

But what makes Russia unusual are the efforts of the government and military to train medal-winning athletes, including a comprehensive anti-doping program that has banned Russian athletes from competing abroad.

Wimbledon lifted the ban on the participation of Russian and Belarusian tennis players on the condition that they agree not to support the leaders or governments of their countries. “Innocent Ukrainians are killing,” despite the fact that Ukrainian Elena Svitolina calls for their abandonment.

The Moscow Ministry of Defense has been carrying out an extensive training program for highly successful athletes for decades.

military relations

The most famous program of this kind is the Central Army Sports Club (CSKA). It employs hundreds of coaches, operates dozens of stadiums across Russia and is believed to train more than 10,000 athletes.

The soon-to-be-100-year-old club is doing so well that its members won most of the medals won by Russian athletes at the last Summer Olympics in Tokyo in 2021.

At these Games, Russian athletes competed as part of the ROC (Russian Olympic Committee) team after the national team was disqualified due to allegations of state-sponsored doping.

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The Russians took part in the Tokyo Olympics, although their team was disqualified © Getty Images The Russians competed in the Tokyo Olympics despite their national team being disqualified

Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu met the military athletes at a celebration after the competition and asked them to present awards and begin preparations for the next Olympics.

He said: "There is no time to lose, you need to work." "We will do our best to ensure you are well prepared for the upcoming matches."

Another major sports program associated with the Russian military is DOSAAF (Voluntary Association for Aid to the Army, Air Force and Navy), founded in 1920.

The Ministry of Defense runs and finances DOSAAF and is headed by a general.

President Putin called it the "School of Real Courage," which has trained many military leaders, cosmonauts and pilots.

Dosav has also produced several Olympic medalists, including Vitalina Patsarshkina, the first Russian female athlete to win gold at the Tokyo Olympics. He trained at the organization's sports and technical club in the Siberian city of Omsk.

Celebrating his gold medal, Dusave called it "the highest form of patriotism".


Perhaps the best illustration of the Russian government's commitment to sporting victories is its anti-doping program for athletes. This was discovered after the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, where Russia topped the medal table.

The following November, an investigation by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) accused Russia of "massive fraud". He said he had found evidence of "direct intimidation and interference by the Russian state" in laboratory work on samples from athletes.

In 2016, another report commissioned by the World Anti-Doping Agency, known as the McLaren Report, showed that more than 1,000 Russians, including Olympic medalists, benefited from state-funded anti-doping programs between 2011 and 2015.

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After the disclosure, Russia was banned from participating in international competitions.

Moscow denies having an anti-doping system for its athletes, and President Putin has only admitted that "the Russian doping control system is not working."

Canadian lawyer Richard McLaren prepared a report on doping in Russia in 2016. © Getty Images Canadian lawyer Richard McLaren condemned doping in Russia in 2016.

But why is the Russian state so interested in continuing to win in the sports arena?

The tabloid newspaper Vedomosti reports that the Russian government wants to use sports results to keep Russians happy and united when things aren't going well elsewhere.

He said we need a victory to raise patriotism. "Victory is part of government policy."

But this policy was undermined when a state-sponsored anti-doping program was exposed and Russia was banned from international sport.

Russia was also prevented from participating in the international competition due to sanctions imposed after the invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.

According to the well-known ex-hockey player, two-time Olympic champion, and now a deputy from the ruling United Russia party, Vyacheslav Fetisov: "We are the most disgraced country in the history of international sports."

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