The Court for Arbitration in Sports (CAS) has pronounced its verdict.
The IAAF-imposed ban on the Russian Athletics Federation stays.
No Russian track-and-field athlete will be competing in Rio—at least, not under their national flag.
The International Olympic Committee will decide the fate of the Russian contingent when it meets today.
The CAS judgment is non-binding on the Committee.
WADA and predominantly western nations’ Olympic Committees are vocally in favour of a blanket ban on the rogue nation given clear and damning evidence of state-sponsored collusion in doping. They feel that the IOC must exhibit ‘zero–tolerance‘ towards systematic doping by any state.
National Olympic Committees have been banned before—simply not for drug-related scandals.
Collective responsibility should not come at the cost of individual justice—the IOC is seeking a balance.
The Russian public believes that their country is being discriminated against by the Western world. They cannot accept that all their athletes are drugged.
A sanction against all Russian competitors would be unfair to those abiding by the rule book.
While the IOC has several options before arriving at a final decision, a simple solution would be to allow the Russians to participate—both under their national banner and the Olympic one but have each one of their athletes subjected to both in-competition and out-of-competition testing.
This would allow clean athletes to breathe freely and hopefully deter sportspersons who are doping.
This would also send a strong message to errant national sports federations everywhere that unless they clean up their act, their athletes and their fellow countrymen will be treated like Caesar’s wife—not above suspicion.
Simply leaving the decision to international sports federations burdens them further and not all of them are fully equipped to make an informed decision on the matter.
Whatever the IOC’s decision, there will be no pleasing everyone.
That’s a given.
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.
What’s normal, what’s not?
What’s a ‘zero tolerance’ policy?
Can rules and regulations prevent cheating?
These are all questions that the general public who follow athletics must be asking themselves and of the IAAF when shocking revelations of more than 800 athletes recorded one or more “abnormal” results over a period of 12 years.
Are you surprised?
The answer, unsurprisingly, is an emphatic no.
Why would we be? Why should we be?
We’re all aware that athletes, in these modern times, are as likely to be supremely naturally gifted yet equally likely to be products of laboratory concoctions.
The debate is age-old.
Science and its manifestations can be used for both good and bad.
The ethics of sports has undergone several changes over the past 100 years or so.
The term ‘professional‘ can denote both excellence as well as ruthlessness and unscrupulousness.
The numbers cited are bewildering; the conclusions are far-reaching—clean athletes are a minority if not a myth.
Will there be a redistribution of medals, of prizes won and claimed?
Will that be enough?
Maybe it’s time to revert to games at a micro level, say, a village rather than the ‘global village’ that is the Olympics and the World Championships?
Mercifully, the tainting of athletes will not put off the amateur and sports lover from indulging in activities that taught them the benefits of regular exercise and notions of fair play.
Unmercifully, it should get them to tighten their purse strings when it comes to doling out cash to watch or cheer these ‘supercharged’ monstrosities or deviants.
The Sports Authority of India (SAI) and Hockey India (HI) have received urgent faxes from the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) and Athletics Federation of India (AFI) requesting access to their training methods.
The appeal follows a report in the Hindustan Times that Indian hockey players are masters of the short sprint, able to cover 10 metres in a minimum time of 1.57 seconds. This beats Usain Bolt’s existing record of 1.89 by a whopping margin.