The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) is fear-mongering.
Its president, Craig Reedie, proclaimed that WADA is considering a blanket ban on countries that regularly violate doping guidelines. This should act as sufficient deterrent to prevent or reduce doping across all sports.
“The fact that this is being discussed as a potential sanction is not entirely unhelpful. It’s a very, very serious sanction because it tends to be a pretty blunt instrument. Maybe that’s required. I’m not sure. It’s never been done before. I would want to wait until I see what my expert commission says about this.”
National bans—for varying reasons—have occurred before but it has always been restricted to individual disciplines.
Reedie’s deliberations come in the wake of recent revelations of widespread blood-doping in an investigation launched by Britain’s Sunday Times and German broadcaster ARD/WDR.
But WADA itself is toothless and has no powers to impose such a stringent punishment. It can merely lobby and hope.
What this does imply is that WADA believes that doping in some rogue states is systematic and that national anti-doping agencies are in collusion with offenders letting them off lightly.
Reedie admitted that WADA does not quite have the resources to tackle the global menace.
“People who wish to cheat have different and more opportunities to cheat than we have to resolve it in conventional ways.
If somebody produces a completely new substance that should be banned, it will take us some time to firstly identify it and then create a test (for it).
We don’t have enough money, but we’re realistic.
We’re now up to roughly $30 million a year as a budget. I think we have become pretty efficient at doing this much as we’ve been able to do within the restrictions that we have in budget terms. But yes, a little bit more help would be warmly welcomed.
If you look at our new (anti-doping) code, you will see there’s a much greater emphasis on investigations and intelligence gathering, and this involves a whole range of entities — law enforcement, customs and sports people.
You can pick up lots of information which allows you to then target a test, rather than blanket test lots of athletes.
Some of the major successes that the anti-doping movement has made have come from these non-analytical efforts.”
Reedie believes that efforts from athletes themselves where they come clean about their blood results may assist in alleviating suspicions that currently cloud sporting achievements.
We’d like to believe that sport is clean. We’d like to believe that there is no need to monitor athletes when we should be relying that honour and integrity are the code words they abide by.
Unfortunately, reality bites. The presence of agencies like WADA is a necessary tool to safeguard the sanctity of sport. Science and sports have intermingled so closely in recent times that separating what’s right and what’s not is no longer the domain of athletes, coaches and trainers. The more aware we are, the better we are able to respond. The general public, at large, merely perceives. And what it perceives is that ethics is being sacrificed at the altar of Mammon. “Everybody else does it, so why shouldn’t I?” can scarcely be the rallying cry of elite athletes.
And to assume that our heroes are saints is deceiving ourselves. It is also true that athletes are a reflection of their environment and while such a ban may be seem a little too extreme, it may be one solution. Such a ban, however, may benefit the countries that are at the leading edge of developments in science and R&D. They may be able to concoct substances that have not yet been listed as prohibited thus staying one step ahead of their pursuers. Is there not a danger of victimization of less fortunate nations?
There are no easy answers, just easy questions.