Poland: 15-21 August 2016

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Russian media plays down the decision of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to ban some Russian athletes from participating in the Rio 2016 Summer Games.

Event: On 21 June, Poland’s Radio Information Agency (IAR) published an article, “Russia partly satisfied with the decision of the IOC,” written by Maciej Jastrzębski and based on a story from Russian state-owned agency TASS stating that “the IOC sustains the decision of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) to deny Russian athletes participation in the 2016 Olympic Games.” 

False facts or narrative: Russia is partly satisfied with the IOC’s decision regarding allegations that the Russian government ran a doping program for Olympic athletes. The IOC sustained an earlier IAFF decision which, although unfavorable for some Russian athletes, was reassuring because some had feared the IOC would forbid the entire team from participating, said the article.

Reality on the ground: The IOC did not ban all Russian athletes and teams from participating in the Olympics. Although some officials and athletes were relieved that the penalties fell short of a complete ban, Russian President Vladimir Putin described even a limited Olympic ban as an unjust “deliberate campaign” against Russia characterized by double standards and incompatible with sports or basic legal norms. 

  • Card stacking;
  • сhanging the quotation, source or context. 
This setback for Russia is presented as a lesser evil, because the IOC could have banned all Russian athletes.

Audiences: Russian and Polish public opinion.

Impact and analysis: The IOC and IAFF decisions seriously damage the image of both Russian sports and the Kremlin, yet Russian media attempted to spin the ruling by suggesting first that it affected only the athletes, not Russia itself (in fact, that is the title of the news item as it ran on the Russian web portal, and second, that athletes who were banned from the Olympics could have individually applied for permission to participate in the games.