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Kazakhstan: Doping Scandal Casts Gloom Over Olympic Hopes

Kazakhstan's President Nursultan Nazarbayev (second from left) told the country's Olympians at a July 4 meeting not to be concerned with “the situation with all these anti-doping measures that are incomprehensible to many.” But the Central Asian nation is taking no chances with the athletes it is sending to Rio de Janeiro: all the competitors were tested for doping, with the samples sent to the WADA laboratory in Dresden, Germany, for analysis. (Photo: Kazakhstani Presidential Press Service)

Discoveries of drug cheating by some of Kazakhstan’s sporting heroes have injected a dispiriting note into preparations for the upcoming Olympics Games in Rio de Janeiro.
 
The euphoria inspired by the record medal haul of the 2012 London Games is long gone and expectations for these Games are modest. Disappointment for Kazakhstan would be doubly crushing, as success in sport is intended not just to foster patriotism, but is also a core part of the state project to boost the nation's standing overseas. The country recently made a strong bid for Almaty to host the 2022 Winter Olympics, only to lose out in a narrow vote to Beijing.
 

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Paul Bartlett is an Almaty-based freelance writer.

Kazakhstan: Doping Scandal Casts Gloom Over Olympic Hopes

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