John Oliver hits out at Russia’s Olympic doping punishment: ‘It wasn’t really a punishment at all’

Country was banned from using its flag, name or national anthem at the Tokyo sporting event

Louis Chilton
Monday 09 August 2021 09:39
USA’s Ryan Murphy raises Olympics doubts after Russian wins gold

Comedian and TV presenter John Oliver has criticised the punishment handed to Russia by the Olympics, suggesting that it didn’t go far enough.

Russia were reprimanded by the Court of Arbitration for Sport and World Anti-Doping Agency after being found guilty of running a state-sponsored doping scheme. The country was banned from hosting and competing in major sporting events for four years.

Athletes from Russia did compete at the Tokyo Olympic Games, which came to an end on Sunday (8 August). Russia’s name and flag were banned from the events, however, with athletes competing under the name “Russian Olympic Committee”.

Music by Russian composer Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky was played for gold medal-winning athletes in lieu of the normal Russian anthem.

However, speaking on his HBO series Last Week Tonight, Oliver questioned the effectiveness of the punishment.

“The Russian name isn’t really banned if they’re competing as the ‘Russian Olympic Committee,’ is it?” said Oliver. “It’s like saying a monster like Harvey Weinstein has absolutely no affiliation with The Weinstein Company. I don’t know about that. The name there really does imply otherwise.

“You don’t get to use ‘ROC’ as a fun, sassy name,” said the British-American comedian. “That was supposed to be your punishment. It’s like if Hannbal Lecter started tweeting, #MUZZLEMEDADDY. No, you eat people. You don’t get to reclaim the muzzle!”

He then highlighted a social media post issued by the Olympic Russia Twitter account that appeared to hit out at speculation over continued Russian doping at the Olympics.

“Wow, that is a hard pushback,” said Oliver. “It’s pretty clear that making Russia compete under these supposedly neutral flag and uniforms, when neither the flag nor the uniforms were neutral, means that this punishment wasn’t really a punishment at all.

Access unlimited streaming of movies and TV shows with Amazon Prime Video Sign up now for a 30-day free trial

Sign up

“So let’s try and learn from this, and next time this problem arises, let’s make sure banned countries have a much clearer asterisk on their participation, so instead of an obviously flag-themed tracksuit, let’s put them in a Shrek-themed sweatshirt paired with s*** emoji slippers and a lobster hat.”

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

View comments