The rules state that any athlete who tests positive for drugs, including steroids, the entire team will be stripped of their medals and disqualified from competing. The fact is that one of the members of the Russian team did test positive and admitted to receiving the injections beginning prior to the 2008 games. Had she declared the medications, as they were doctor prescribed, the ruling may have been different, but she failed to do so and it cost her and her team.
The Olympics must ensure that athletes compete on an equal basis to maintain the integrity of the games. Stripping winners of medals has occurred in other sports, such as the Tour de France. Especially in light of the exposure of massive state-sponsored doping by the Russian government, it is only fair to retract those medals from the undeserving and award them to the rightful winners.
Olympic medals should be stripped retroactively. The 2008 Russian Olympic team lost its gold medal due to doping, which sends a clear message. Even if it is years later, you cannot break Olympic rules. The penalty is harsh, and it publicly shames the offenders. In fact, doing it years later may result in additional publicity.
Striping teams and athelets of medals or other accomplishments retroactively turns into a witch hunt very quickly. The best thing to do is to focus on what is happening right now, and make sure that prizes and awards are awarded fairly. If the competition was recent or hotly contested, it is okay to take away awards.