Tatiana Lebedeva: "Even if competing under neutral flag, our athletes will represent Russia"
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) meeting held on December 5 turned the Olympic movement upside down: Russia has been banned from the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, and the Russian Olympic Committee was disqualified. At the same time, Russian athletes deemed "clean" by an international special commission will be allowed to compete under an Olympic flag as 'Olympic Athlete from Russia' (OAR). The member of the Federation Council Committee on Social Policy, Olympic champion Tatyana Lebedeva told Vestnik Kavkaza about the consequences of these scandalous decisions of the International Olympic Committee.
- Tatyana Romanovna, how will such an unprecedented incident affect the Olympic movement?
- The Olympic movement has long been in crisis. At the same time, there were different periods for a hundred-year history: when the Olympic Games were not held during the world wars and when the main countries boycotted the Olympics in 1980 and 1984. It is not the first time the Olympic movement has been in crisis, but if it wants to save its face, it has to be smart about it. And it is important that the Russians were given the opportunity to compete, no matter how much pressure came from many famous personalities who demanded to completely ban all Russians from the Olympics. We cannot just take this path, demonstrate hubris and say "We turn and walk away", because then we would have to answer the question of why we started the fight two years ago when we started to restore RUSADA and seek a way out of the situation. All it was done not to say that we need nothing now, especially since it will throw us off a few years in the framework of all world public sports movements. Those criteria that were put forward by the IOC are quite feasible, for example, they do not have a dead-end requirement to recognize McLaren's report, which we will never do. At the same time, we must certainly defend ourselves in court, and the problem here is that for two years of the struggle we have said that we are filing suits, and in the end it turns out that our athletes defend themselves in courts privately, without an organized support.
- Thus, do you think that boycotting the Olympics would be wrong, and Russians should compete under the flag of the IOC?
- I'm with athletes, I think that we should not boycott the Olympics. It is athletes, not the state, who must decide. At the same time, the choice should be made by a collegial body, it should not be privately decided, who will go and who will not. The athletes who fit the criteria of the IOC will sit down together and discuss their further actions. It will be a great responsibility and a great nervous tension, as the opinions in the society were divided - someone thinks that we should not took part in the Olympics under such conditions, someone thinks differently. They must be ready to bear a double burden, because it will be a huge responsibility not only for them, but for the country - whatever they say about the neutral flag, they will still be Olympic Athletes from Russia, they will still represent Russia. That is, our athletes will not be completely depersonalized, like at the International Athletics Federation, where it was forbidden to use the word "Russia", in addition, our athletes will march under the Russian flag at the closing ceremony.
It should be understood that we have been under a new information attack, when they will try to widen the divide between our citizens. Those bots that criticized Russia and our internal affairs before yesterday are shouting: "Yes, we must boycott it! We are proud", this is an obvious smear campaign in order to divide and weaken our society. Meanwhile, the Olympic movement has always united people, and we must understand that if our athletes go, we need to unite and fully support them, so that they performed as best as possible. Justice will prevail, and it is possible that when Russia returns to the Olympic family, the rights of the national Olympic committee will be restored, and 'Olympic Athletes from Russia' will be changed to 'Russia'. Still, people have citizenship.
- Will this situation affect the development of sport in Russia?
- I do not think that it will have a significant impact, as elite sports is a separate topic. In addition, there will always be talented athletes who will win medals. At the same time, we should understand that if we ban our athletes from competing at the Olympics, young people, who look up to not just musicians and actors but also to athletes, will have fewer idols, which play a big role in the formation of personality - people go in for sports to be like someone they like. We should not lose our positions here, we need to act as citizens of Russia, as Russians, in order to set an example and give experience of behavior in times of crisis. Every social organization experiences hard times once in a while, and we need to look ten steps ahead, without any emotions. Yes, there is a confrontation, the political background of the decision of the IOC is huge, but as they say, you should be by head and shoulders above and do our best.
We should also fill the existing gaps and correct mistakes. We ourselves have an interest in this in the first place, if we do not want a repeat of such situations. It is necessary to pay more attention to mass sports in order to find talented children, who then would become real athletes. Mass sports gives birth to elite sports and champions. While we have certain difficulties in elite sports, we should invest in mass sports, youth sports, and do it professionally, realizing that we need coaching staff and legal medical and biological security, including specialized nutrition, so that professionals were able to achieve high results without any doping.