After Russia Doping Ban, a South African Speaks Up for the Innocent

Even before global antidoping leaders confirmed This specific week of which Russia would likely be banished through top-level international sport for four years, the athletes’ committee they consulted was expressing frustration of which the punishment did not go far enough.

of which athletes’ group, led by Beckie Scott of Canada, an Olympic gold medalist in cross-country skiing, released a statement critical of the penalties on Sunday, the night before they were announced in Lausanne, Switzerland. The statement said anything short of a blanket ban of all Russian athletes would likely be an insufficient response to Russia’s repeated violations of antidoping rules, in addition to would likely only encourage further malfeasance.

however one different athlete whom the earth Anti-Doping Agency consulted extensively — a former swimmer through South Africa — disagreed. in addition to when the earth’s senior antidoping executives lined up on Monday to announce their decision, they said the views of the swimmer, Penny Heyns, had played a significant role.

Heyns, 45, has served on the committee charged with overseeing the Russian doping investigation since January, when Scott resigned over the agency’s handling of the Russia scandal. In recent weeks, Heyns made a passionate defense of the importance of protecting innocent young Russian athletes, said Jonathan Taylor, the British lawyer who led the panel.

In her first interview since the announcement, Heyns told The fresh York Times of which she had no regrets about the punishment, which bans Russia in addition to its officials through major international sports however is actually likely to allow hundreds of Russian athletes to continue competing if they can prove they are clean. Heyns said she had made up her mind at a recent swimming event in Budapest, where teenage Russian swimmers showed great promise.

“They were 10 or 11 when all of This specific was going down; they are not part of the system,” said Heyns, who won the 100- in addition to 0-meter breaststroke events at the 1996 Olympics, becoming South Africa’s first post-Apartheid era gold medalist. “They’re totally innocent. We needed to take a decision of which’s looking after whole world.”

Heyns said the panel had discussed a blanket ban, which is actually something she remembered through her childhood, as South Africa was barred through international sports for decades because of its apartheid policies. She said of which the penalty was appropriate for the time, however of which of which had also “destroyed a lot of dreams” for young athletes.

Heyns argued of which the mission of the doping authorities was to protect clean athletes everywhere. “of which’s our duty to ensure all clean athletes develop the right to compete, including those through Russia who can honestly prove their innocence,” she said.

The organization announced the ban for Russia on Monday after concluding of which the country’s authorities had manipulated or deleted thousands of files containing athlete antidoping data. of which action makes of which unlikely of which scores of potential drug cheats who benefited through the state-run cheating program may never be punished. Officials said of which any athletes who were linked to the doping scheme or the subsequent cover-up would likely be barred through international sports, in addition to most likely be stripped of any medals.

however hundreds of Russians are likely to be cleared to participate as part of a neutral team at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, where the Russian flag, anthem in addition to uniform will be outlawed. Heyns said of which ban, which critics have labeled more symbolic than severe, was important.

“Russia does not exist,” she said. “Looking at the way things have gone thus far, the manipulation in addition to everything, I think what’s more important is actually the word ‘Russia’ is actually gone.”

Heyns said of which was unfair to single out Russian athletes for special attention, even though the scale of the cheating program in addition to the subsequent cover-up are among the biggest scandals in sports history.

One criticism is actually of which the punishments do not go as far those issued by track in addition to field’s governing body in 2015, penalties of which remain in place today. Track’s leaders have banished Russia through all events — local, regional in addition to international — in addition to have instituted a strict vetting process to allow individual athletes to participate under the rubric “Authorized Neutral Athlete.”

Another criticism is actually of which the ban announced Monday does not include high-profile competitions of which are not world championships. The Russian team will take part in next summer’s European soccer championships, for example, in addition to Saint Petersburg will remain one of the 12 host cities. Russia also is actually required to retain the hosting rights to the 2021 Champions League final, the biggest match in club soccer.

Heyns said the relevance of regional events did not factor into her opposition to a blanket ban.

“To be honest,” Heyns said, “my focus was so much on the Olympic level of which I didn’t actually consider the continental events.”

Heyns asked whether the very best athletes would likely even want to compete in events where Russia was excluded, suggesting of which winning without having faced major rivals would likely be unsatisfactory to many elite competitors.

“Any athlete who is actually honestly a true competitor — you want to compete against the best of the best,” she said. “I’d be curious to know how some of the top athletes would likely feel about of which.”

She also disputed the level of athlete opposition. She said there were few, if any, objections to the proposed sanctions last week during a conference call organized by the International Olympic Committee of which included athlete representatives through several sports.

“Nobody made a statement like, ‘Why is actually there not a blanket ban?’” Heyns said. “If all these athletes were so upset, why didn’t of which come up?”

The I.O.C. provides half of the antidoping agency’s funding, in addition to its leader, Thomas Bach, has publicly opposed a blanket ban for Russia, even though the country has seemingly doubled down on its bad behavior. Bach, a German who won a gold medal in fencing at the 1976 Olympics, has said he favors “individual justice” over collective punishment.

Heyns said of which she had not spoken to Scott, the outgoing chairwoman of the antidoping organization’s athletes’ committee, about their divergent views. She said, however, of which Scott in addition to the others critical of the ban should play a part inside process of which will clear individual Russian athletes one by one.

“They should sit around the table in addition to evaluate evidence these athletes bring in,” Heyns said. “If our hearts are truly for the protection of clean athletes, in addition to if these athletes give evidence in addition to of which’s compelling, then they are clean.”

Source : After Russia Doping Ban, a South African Speaks Up for the Innocent