Scandal Coverage

Online media can influence the opinions and attitudes of the public (Ahmed & Hussain, 2016). The European media outlets below were chosen because of their popularity and varied approaches to discussing international issues.


Much of the coverage on BBC, or the British Broadcasting Corporation, included reporting of general facts of the Russian doping scandal. Less coverage was given to editorials or opinion pieces.

BBC Screenshots

BBC reported that other outlets outside of Russia saw the doping Scandal as an act of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s efforts to expand his power (“Russia doping,” 2016). Specifically, Die Welt in Germany and Espreso TV in Ukraine made this claim through coverage. The Russian scandal was also presented as an entanglement between Russia and the West. France’s La Depeche described it as the beginning of “a possible cold war in sports” (“Russia doping,” 2016).

BBC -Agenda-setting

BBC claimed that some media outlets “defended” the actions of Russia through commentaries that expressed that calls for banning were too extreme. Although referenced, China’s Global Times article was not linked to by BBC. In addition, it was the only source mentioned as a defender. The frequency of coverage plays an important role in agenda setting of media (Ahmed & Hussain, 2016). The Russian scandal remains a leading story for BBC. News coverage of the scandal dates back to the first allegations of the scandal in 2015 and continues to April 2017.


BBC - World System Theory

It is also important to note coverage of the Russian scandal as it relates to world system theory. The European Union (EU) is designated as a core zone, an area having more power when compared to other zones around the world. The United Kingdom is currently going through the formal process of being removed from the European Union; however, that process won’t be completed until 2019 (Hunt & Wheeler, 2017). It is safe to say that as a leading news organization in a core zone, BBC’s coverage is influential.

(Morgan, 2016)

Also, there were very few human interest pieces that detailed an athlete’s individual experience as a result of the scandal and the IOC’s decision. BBC offered an interesting take by featuring young Russians living in the UK and their feelings on the banning of Russian athletes. Most of those interviewed said Russia deserved a second chance, Russia isn’t the only country whose athletes have used performance-enhancing drugs, and all Russian athletes shouldn’t be banned. Within the article, BBC only offered one UK Russian resident that was against the coverage of the scandal and thought the banning of Russian athletes was an attempt by western countries to punish Russia (Morgan, 2016).

Deutsche Well

Deutsche Well, Germany’s international public broadcaster, relayed more human interest stories related to the scandal than BBC. For example, the “My Olympics” series was created to explore different perspectives of people around the world who in various ways were connected to Rio 2016. Those featured included a sports journalist from India, German diplomats, and Olympics volunteers with Down syndrome. One video featured the head of press at the Russian Fan-house in Brazil. She expressed that the banning of athletes was a shock and that Russian athletes are not only doping athletes (“My Olympics”, 2016). DW stories went beyond looking at the scandal from a broad Olympic standpoint by relaying stories about banned athletes in specific sports like wrestling and weightlifting (“Olympics: Ban on Russian weightlifters and rowers upheld”, 2016). Some stories included doping allegations in other countries such as Kenya.

Messages conveyed:

• Doubt in the McLauren report

• Disappointment by Russian athletes

• Defensiveness by Russian athletes

• Message of other countries do it

("My Olympics" , 2016)

DW - Agenda-Setting & World System Theory

Story placement can also have a significant impact on readers and viewers in terms of agenda-setting. DW features a “Doping” category on its sports section that still contains the most updated information related to the Russian scandal and the IOC’s decision. Like the United Kingdom, German is a member of the European Union. As a result, DW, in its coverage of the Russian doping scandal, has the potential to have significant influence over a large audience as a core zone (McPhail, 2014).


The Russian doping Scandal wasn’t as widely covered on Euronews, the multilingual, French news service, as it was on other sites. A quick search of the site for stories related to “Russia” and “doping,” only resulted in 19 results, which isn’t a lot, considering coverage of the doping scandal began in 2015 and continues today. Like other European news outlets, the stories featured more human interest pieces and provided perspectives of those against the IOC’s decision to ban athletes.

Euronews Screenshot
Euronews Screenshot
Euronews Screenshot

Euronews - Agenda Setting & World System Theory

Since France is a primary member of the European Union, it is designated as a core zone in the world system. Almost every story featured a video that offered more details into how Russian citizens and Russian athletes felt about the ban. The 271 Russian athletes that were allowed to compete in the Rio Olympics rejected the stigma associated with the banning (“Amid boos and jeers, Russia athletes reject doping stigma,” 2016). Many endured taunting during individual competitions. In terms of agenda-setting, the Euronews articles, along with the Russian athletes, continued to push the agenda that the banning was unfair and the doping investigation was political (“Putin says claims of Russian doping ‘political’ | Euronews,” 2016).

(Hardy, 2016)


Ahmed, J., & Hussain, S. (2016). Coverage of Pakistan General Election 2008 in Leading Pakistan English Newspapers: Exploring Agenda Setting. Global Media Journal: Pakistan Edition, 9(2), 1–16.

Amid boos and jeers, Russia athletes reject doping stigma. (2016, November 8). Retrieved April 25, 2017, from

Hardy, C. (2016, August 15). Russia’s only athlete cleared to compete in Olympics. Retrieved April 25, 2017, from

Hunt, A., & Wheeler, B. (2017, March 30). Brexit: All you need to know about the UK leaving the EU. BBC News. Retrieved from

McPhail, T. L (2014). Global communication: Theories, stakeholders, and trends. Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell

Morgan, F. (2016, July 29). How young Russians feel about their athletes being banned from the Rio Olympics. Retrieved April 23, 2017, from

My Olympics (2016). Retrieved from

Olympics: Ban on Russian weightlifters and rowers upheld. (2016, March 8). Retrieved April 23, 2017, from

Olympic Photos, Galleries & Slideshows | Top Olympic Images. (2017, February 23). Retrieved April 26, 2017, from

Putin says claims of Russian doping “political” | Euronews. (2016, July 18). Retrieved April 25, 2017, from

Russia doping: Media see Putin behind sports scandal. (2016, July 19). BBC News. Retrieved from

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