Confirmed List of Olympic Athletes from Russia Confirm Stolbova and Bukin Out with Partners
IOC confirms a list that replaces Stolbova & Klimov and Stepanova & Bukin; reasons for their exclusion remains unknown.
It’s been a crazy week for Russian skating. After seeming like they were going to go largely unaffected by their country’s ongoing doping scandal and its dramatic consequences, Tuesday the bombshell dropped that Ksenia Stolbova and Ivan Bukin, along with a number of athletes from other sports, might not be getting invitations for the Games. To make matters worse, there was no clear reason given for this, even to them, which meant that for the first time in the whole saga, after spending so long making ridiculous claims about being wronged, the Russians genuinely had been wronged, penalized without even getting to know the allegations against them.
Things just got more dreadful and more confusing from there. The next day one Russian media source claimed Ekaterina Bobrova & Dmitri Soloviev were out too. But the Russian officials still talking made it sound firmly like they weren’t. One minute the alternate pairs and dance teams were listed as in, the next there was a story going around that rejected athletes would go unreplaced, although that now appears to have happened due to a translation error. Russia’s sports minster Pavel Kolobkov said they’d be taking everything to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
But meanwhile, they announced a more final list, including a full team for figure skating (“ФИГУРНОЕ КАТАНИЕ НА КОНЬКАХ”), and today saw IOC confirmation. Bobrova & Soloviev, at least, remain in. Stolbova, Bukin, and their partners Fedor Klimov and Alexandra Stepanova remain out. Kristina Astakhova & Alexei Rogonov and Tiffani Zagorski & Jonathan Guerreiro are in as their replacements. No explanations for any individual cases were given, though the IOC did publish a list of general criteria.
That doesn’t meant the matter’s completely over. The CAS will probably still have its say. But they’ll have to do it quickly, with less than two weeks to go until the Olympics start. Right now, decisions are only scheduled for those from Sochi who were stripped of their results and banned by the Oswald Commission last December, and the CAS is not likely to be kind to those athletes. There might not even be time to decide on other individual cases. That makes any relief for anyone unlikely.
Officials and others are also still trying to find out why particular athletes weren’t invited. Among those trying to find out are Nina Mozer, coach of the team’s original three pairs, including Stolbova & Klimov. It does not help matters that the IOC is trying to have it both ways with their decision. First they insisted not being on the invite list “should not automatically cast doubts on their integrity.” But then IOC president Thomas Bach said if they weren’t, the panel doing the invites would have “serious indications” they were doping. The second remark is tantamount to accusing those snubbed of wrongdoing, whatever the first statement claims. Moral justice, at this point, would demand Stolbova, Bukin, and all the others at least be told why.
But the IOC is continually failing to impress right now. This week they also released rules for the athletes which threaten to kick them out if they so much as retweet anything with the word “Russia” in it. That’s simply punitive, and more a show of penalizing Russia’s wrongdoing than actually penalizing it. It raises the question of whether some of this week’s snubs are the same.
Unless we the public someday hear a story which justifies the IOC’s actions, they have now forfeited whatever moral advantage they may have still had at the beginning of this week. And the damage they have done to these athletes could be long-lasting. Not only are they denied what they’ve spent their lives working for, but whatever anyone says, suspicions could dog them for the rest of their careers. The highest-profile athlete refused, speed skater Viktor Ahn, spoke in his statement about those consequences to his reputation. Stolbova & Klimov were likely to retire soon anyway, but Bukin is still in what should be the earlier years of his career. Right now, as far as we know, nobody’s even told him if he can even hope to be allowed in come 2022, or anything he can do about that.
The Russians may now forever believe the whole scandal was a ploy by the Evil West to take top Russian athletes out of the Olympics. And when top Russian athletes with no public allegations of wrongdoing are so taken out, it’s harder to blame them for it.