The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has issued a blockbuster report that calls for Russia to be banned from international athletics for doping violations and a “deeply rooted culture of cheating at all levels” within Russian athletics. We have previously discussed the lax treatment of cheating by countries like China in international sports. WADA has not only bucked that trend but criticized the long-ridiculed the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) for its “inexplicable laissez-fair policy.” Bravo, WADA, Bravo.
WADA also calls upon the IAAF to ban five athletes and five coaches for life. The most shocking disclosure is that Russia destroyed 1,400 samples “intentionally and maliciously” even after a plea to preserve them. WADA says that the Russian government was directly involved in the destruction and cover up. It further suggests that some of the 2012 Olympic athletes from Russia should not have been competing and that some of the medals won by Russia may have been due to doping.
The report by WADA President Dick Pound refers to “corruption and bribery practices at the highest levels of international athletics but singles out Russia for its calculated efforts to cheat and then destroy evidence.
Pound told a press conference: “For the 2016 Olympics our recommendation is that the Russian Federation is suspended. One of our hopes is that they will volunteer that so they can undertake the remedial work needed.” Hmmm, Vladimir Putin is not exactly the remedial type of guy, but hope strings eternal.
As with the FIFA scandal, international sporting organization remain a cesspool and the cheating by countries has long been documented. Yet, WADA should be credited with taking a stand and calling out international sporting figures for their complicity in this corrupt system. I do not have high hopes in any dealings with the Olympic officials or international sporting officials — any more than I did with the FIFA. It took a U.S. criminal investigation to force FIFA to account. No such action is likely against the Russian sporting establishment. The losers are the athletes who lost to doped up competitors in their one shot for Olympic glory. The athletes are often treated as mere pawns in international rivalries and politics.
WADA has thrown down the gauntlet and we will now see if international sporting officials have a modicum of integrity. It would seem obvious that the destruction of samples should be treated as a major violation in itself that warrants suspension. Otherwise, international sport will continue to rely on the good graces and motivations of countries like Russia.