Geo-bioethics: Reporting on Russia’s ban from Olympic competition in the international and Russian English language press


The decision of the International Olympic Committee to ban Russian athletes from the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro and the 2018 Pyeonchang Games in South Korea, following accusations of a state-promoted doping programme behind Russian sport, indicates that what was formerly framed as a personal misdemeanour has now developed into a geopolitical matter, a shift that involves a considerable change in the approach taken towards the phenomenon of doping. Scholars of political science and international relations now see such venues as occasions for the exercise of ‘soft power’, namely, “the ability of states to communicate universally shared values […] in order to court the publics of other states” (Grix, Lee 2013, p. 526). If states are “attempting to use sports mega-events to persuade the governments, businesses and the public in other countries to alter negative stereotypes they hold” (Grix, Houlihan 2013, p. 577), how are those negative stereotypes affected when the reason for non-inclusion is a bioethical one? Concomitantly, how does the ostracized nation attempt to protect its threatened identity before the eyes of the world (Altukhov, Nauright 2018)? To assess how this issue has been contested and negotiated in the media two comparable corpora have been assembled: the first comprising English language articles about the bans in the international press (IPC); the second composed of English language articles on the same topic available on the ITAR-TASS website (Russian Press Corpus; RPC). The corpora are interrogated using concordancing software to provide an initial sample of 100 keywords from each corpus, which are then placed in broad semantic fields. The IPC corpus furnishes insights both into the kinds of stereotypes that abound in reporting about Russia’s alleged behaviour and also into the values the international community implicitly attributes to itself. On the other hand, the RPC provides pointers to how Russia implements its English language press service to effect damage repair to its international reputation and cushion the blow to its soft power.

DOI Code: 10.1285/i22390359v34p191

Keywords: doping; Olympic ban; international English language press; ITAR-TASS English language articles; CADS approach


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