Russia Needs To Stay Clean To Avoid 2018 Winter Olympics Ban

Russia Needs To Stay Clean To Avoid 2018 Winter Olympics Ban

The country likely to receive ban from the 2018 Winter Olympics over uncovered doping program.

The Russian doping scandal in the Olympic Games has been a major focal point of the upcoming 2018 Winter Games in PyeongChang.

More information has been brought into light as the Russian drug-testing facility responsible for testing their athletes that compete in the winter games has been declared by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), as “non-compliant." The implications of the scale of this scandal are extremely detrimental to Russia’s stance within the Olympic competition. Forfeiture of medals can be forced on them if any athlete, in any event, is suspected of doping, and the accusations and suspicions will only increase as Russia fights against WADA and other Olympic committees.

Currently, Russia is awaiting a possible suspension from participating in all activities in the 2018 Olympics.

This “death penalty” is not unheard of but is certainly rare, with most suspensions being incurred in the 20th century on countries who allied with Germany in the world wars. Russia has seen its fair share of doping scandal, with the 1980 Olympic Games being held in Moscow being renowned for a majority of medalists being suspected of doping. Recently Russia has been in hot water after earlier this month, Russian Olympic athletes admitted to using banned substances given to them by Grigory Rodchenkov. Rodchenkov was the lead scientist who headed Russia’s primary anti-doping laboratory from 2005 to 2015.

Russia’s doping violation has also had repercussions in other venues. FIFA has notified Russia that failing to adhere to the drug-testing process set forth by the Olympic committee could also result in a suspension given by FIFA preventing them from participating in the World Cup. If Russia would receive the suspension, they would probably attempt to “boycott” the Olympics to make it appear that they don’t respect the decision of a ban. The effectiveness of this however would be a matter of opinion in terms of who backs down first, because the ban if given, would still be in effect preventing Russia from competing.

Russia is expecting a ruling on the fate of their 2018 Olympic run on December 5th.

Cover Image Credit: Pexels

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12 Things Texans Hate About Oklahoma

We all know Texas is the superior state, but just why do we Texans hate Oklahoma so much?

So, everyone on the planet knows that Texas is indisputably THE BEST state in this glorious country and because of this, we Texans deem every other state inferior. It also may seem that we have a 'rivalry' with Oklahoma (although, it's no contest which state is superior). However, this rivalry is actually more of a disdain and for many good reasons. That being said, here's a list of 12 credible, bona-fide reasons that Texans hate the state of Oklahoma.

1. The Constant Wind

Everyone has heard that the wind is constantly blowing in Oklahoma, but you don’t realize how annoying that is until you live here. You think you walk outside looking good, but the wind is like, “Haha, not today.” Also, it’s not the kind of cool breeze that’s refreshing on a hot day; if it’s cold outside, the wind is freezing cold, if it’s hot outside, the wind is a gust of hot, humid air.

2. No Buc-ee’s

If you haven’t heard of the amazing-ness that is Buc-ee’s, then you are missing out. Buc-ee’s is the most awesome gas station. They have everything, and by that, I mean everything. They even have Comfort Colors tanks with the Buc-ee’s logos, as well as the cleanest gas station bathrooms you’ll find anywhere. Unfortunately, unless you’ve ever driven to south Texas, you’ve possibly never heard of Buc-ee’s, which is a real shame.

3. Narrow Lanes

First off, the roads in Oklahoma are absolutely atrocious. The first grievance on this list is that the lanes are just too small. You think I’m going to be able to fit my dually truck and horse trailer in between these lines? Yeah, I don’t think so, that Prius barely fits.

4. Slow Speed Limits

On the subject of roads, the highways here have an average speed limit of 55. You have to get on a toll road to even have a speed limit of 75. That would not fly in Texas. How do you expect to get anywhere quickly if you have to go 55 mph? That’s child’s play. Texas boasts the highest speed limit in the United States, something we utilize to its full potential.

5. No HEB

HEB, aka the BEST grocery store on the planet, probably in the universe, but I cannot confirm, only has stores in Texas. And even then, the northernmost store is all the way in Burleson. I mean, you can buy Whataburger’s fancy ketchup by the bottle; what more can you ask for?

6. OU

The Red River rivalry is a well-known rivalry between OU (University of Oklahoma- Sooners) and UT (University of Texas- Longhorns). Admittedly, there is a lot of division between Texans on this issue, but if you’re a diehard Texan, then chances are you hate OU simply on principle.

7. Majorly Lacking Major League Sports Teams

As a Texan, we’re used to having our pick of major league sports teams, whether it be football, basketball, or baseball, and trash talking other Texans that root for the rival team is half the fun. All Oklahomans have are the OKC Thunder, and I guess hockey, but who really follows that any way? It’s America, football is king here and baseball is the national pastime.

8. Eternal Road Construction

Road construction is a necessary evil; it’s always going on. However, at least in Texas, you see actual progress. In Oklahoma, roads are cut down to one lane for months on end with no visible progress to be seen.

9. Increased Sales Tax

According to, the combined state and average local sales tax rate for 2015 is 8.77% in Oklahoma compared to 8.05 %. This seems like something really petty to add on to this list, but hey, I don’t want the government any more money than it has to. Also, when you start being an actual adult, Texas is one of seven states that does not charge state income tax.

10. No Coastline

Oklahoma is landlocked. For a Texan, whose home state boasts 367 miles of coastline (the 6th highest in the United States), this is stifling.

11. Mite Infestations

Apparently, this past summer and fall, there was an outbreak of mites that like to bite people. They were worse than mosquito bites and quite frankly, a pain in the butt to deal with. If you walked across any patch of grass, chances were you woke up with an itchy, red sore from this microscopic

12. It’s Just Not Texas

Any Texan can tell you, as we are know for our rather fanatic state pride, that there’s just something about Texas that feels like home. And no matter how many great things a city has to be proud of, nothing will ever replace Texas. Everything’s better in Texas and there’s no denying it.

Cover Image Credit: Pinterest

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Dressage Has Roots In Every Equestrian Sport And Horsemen And Women Need To Start Learning From Each Other

This isn't just a hook, it's a fact. For the sake of equestrian sport — lets start learning from each other.


The Greek philosopher Xenophon was born in 430 BCE in Athens, Greece — the earlier years of the Peloponnese War. Little is known about Xenophon's earliest years, but historians know that Xenophon joined the Greek mercenary army of the Achaemenian prince Cyrus the Younger, and was involved in the Prince's rebellion against his brother — the Persian king Artaxerxes II.

He sustained a relationship with the Spartans even after Xenophon's return to Greece. As a result, Xenophon was quickly exiled from Athens.

In exile, Xenophon wrote his treatise "On Horsemanship." These are the oldest writings about equine training, breeding and overall ownership of equine partners. "On Horsemanship" spurred the oldest equestrian sport for the Olympics — dressage.

Shauna Wells riding her horse Syn in dressage.Photo Credit: Alysoun Wells

No Olympic sport today can attest to having as enriching of a history as dressage has. From the book of Xenophon dressage continued to be developed by the military until the fall of the Roman Empire where this understanding and refinement of horsemanship was lost in the brutality of the Middle Ages. Heavier horses were favored for use with heavy armor and weapons, but the Renaissance brought back the need for speed, agility and maneuverability of horses in battle.

This was the age of many of the great masters of classical dressage training, as methods were perfected and recorded in writings and art. Dressage had come to be seen as an important part of the education of the young nobility throughout Europe. Dressage and horse riding, in general, became viewed more so as a character-forming process as a way of expressing their elevated status through elegant parades and displays rather than for military use.

Some of the classical schools of dressage were founded during this newfound time of indoor arena work versus strictly using horses for battle — such as the Spanish Riding School of Vienna (1572) — remained and preserve their tradition and is treasured by equestrians everywhere today.

Such a sport is dressage that it has instilled its roots into almost every popular equestrian sport known today. From three-day-eventing to hunter pleasure and even western sporting events — such as reining and ranch horse pleasure — dressage-esque techniques are used in disciplines that may seem anything but dressage.

A 10-year-old quarter horse gelding getting a tune-up for western pleasure

Photo Credit: Kaylica Chadwick IG @kaylicasandraphoto

The goal of dressage is to develop a horse's flexibility, responsiveness to aids and overall balance while maintaining a calm demeanor; it is no wonder that the word "dressage" itself is derived from the French term meaning "training" as this is the goal of dressage.

A training guide called "The Pyramid of Training" offers equestrians a progressive and interrelated system to develop the horse physically and mentally over time. This system includes rhythm, relaxation, connection, impulsion, straightness and collection — all to make a horse appear pleasurable to ride and effortless for the rider.

This system is also used in disciplines such as western pleasure, reining and ranch horse pleasure to develop young horses and train for suppleness, calm demeanor, flexibility and fitness. Western disciplines often times ask horses to have a more relaxed carriage of the body versus English-type disciplines like modern dressage and showjumping

Me riding Boomer at the 2018 Sacramento Horse ExpoPhoto Credit: Moira Elizabeth Barber

Reining is a very fast-paced and exciting western event where successful trainers build up their prospective champions with rhythm and impulsion. Engagement of the horse's core and back is essential to training in reining just as it is for dressage. In fact, you could even say:

"Reining is like dressage's first cousin that moved out west for college, bought a ranch and a stetson and never looked back." — John Wilkinson

A lot of reining training to instill self-carriage of the horse uses "long and low" training asking the horse to stretch his neck down low and forward whilst moving forward at a walk, trot, or canter. The goal is to stretch and strengthen the horse's back. This type of back/topline strengthening exercise is used in dressage as well to develop the horse's back and teach self-carriage to engage the core and round the back with the goal to properly carry the rider.

Keeping rhythm with your horse is important to keeping that engaged core and round back. Otherwise, you could slam on their back and cause their collection to fall apart and create a messy and uncomfortable gait.

Successful show jumpers will also use dressage basics to create a foundation for their horse's fitness — after all, show jumping isn't just about jumping over poles.

Photo Credit: Laila Klinsmann

It is so much more complicated than that. Even with the best genetics or the best rider, a horse is nothing without flat work — even in a sport that is glorified to take to the sky. Teaching a horse how to properly carry himself is vital and is yet another lesson taught originally by masters of dressage who lived centuries ago.

A complaint show jumping and hunter trainers have is taking on horses that were trained by someone who taught the horse to jump, but barely did any flat work with the horse. As a result, these horses are a disorganized and confused mess. They know how to jump high — and really are good at it — but barely have half a brain when the new trainer asks them to slow down their gait and engage their entire body because all they ever were taught was to just go forward.

It may not seem like a significant problem, but when you have 1,000 pounds of horse under you that is a flurry of hooves and was never taught to move their body without stepping on himself, it is a pretty big problem. It goes to show that flat work (aka dressage) is important for teaching a horse how to properly carry himself and his rider — not only for the sake of fitness but for the horse's and the rider's sake.

Photo Credit: Jean van der Meulen

You teach a horse to slow down at the canter and properly collect and carry himself — you just did dressage. You teach a horse to flex and bend at all gaits — you just did dressage. You teach a horse to properly stretch out his gaits while engaging his whole body — you just did dressage.

The above are training tools used in every discipline to train successful and fit horses that are pleasant to ride, which is criteria in every discipline. Dressage is training as well as a discipline and it really needs to be viewed that way instead of some exclusive thing.

As a loyal western rider, I have often received cross-eyed looks from people when I told them I would take dressage lessons as well as reining lessons. I never really understood it, but I think of an idea as to why.

The equestrian community really has a hard time learning from one another and it creates a stench of arrogance to people outside of our sport. Part of this is creating our own identities of where we stand within our sport as equestrians and which discipline we choose to associate ourselves with.

The above statement is as bold as it is harsh, but hear me out.

It is part of human nature to protect our identity in the face of conflict. Whether it is a conflict as small as other equestrians giving us complicating advice or something as harsh as telling another equestrian their entire sport is cruel, we want to protect what has always been known and felt familiar to us. And part of that can be ignoring educated and logical advice that rings true.

Horses are such complicated beasts so large and powerful on the outside yet can develop problems from such mediocre things. So complicated that it is frightening and stressful when a problem does arrive because can logically think of ten different causes and you could still be wrong.

The same way of thinking applies for training. What works for one horse may not work for another. It's complicated to find what works for your own horse and it can be scary when you think of how this horse relies on you for guidance.

It's like being a teacher for a child that can't speak or really make gestures unless they're having a tantrum. What develops, as a result, is this feeling of only trusting yourself since "you know your own horse best." Which may be a good way to go in a lot of problematic situations, but this also causes a distrust in other's advice even if they're educated.

Part of the only trusting yourself attitude ties in with the discipline you choose to identify with whether you're a reiner or a show jumper. We're a little more apt to trust the advice of those within our own discipline. But if someone were to suggest to a reining trainer to take a dressage lesson to improve their riding skills people would look at you as if you grew two heads.

"I'm a reiner, not a dressage rider! What could I get out of a discipline that isn't even mine!?" Well, a lot, actually.

Considering all of equestrian sport is intertwined with how we train our horses and we all adore our horses, we can all learn from each other — especially from the riders that are in a discipline that is literally thousands of years old.

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