Friday, July 29, 2016

Can doping in sport ever be stopped?

Yulia Stepanova Russia doping WADA IOC
Russian whistle-blower and 800m runner Yulia Stepanova

My first reaction to WADA finding such widespread state-sponsored doping in Russia was relief, Relief because the doping habits athletes themselves talk about are now being recognised at a high level.

Then sadness hit;
because any clean athlete or coach in that country is now tainted. Sadness for every clean athlete in other countries who had their championship title stolen by chemicals. And you know what, sympathy too for the athletes who doped, many no doubt under pressure. And selfishly for myself with another massive dent in my enjoyment of the Olympics.

The IOC hit back hard of course, with Pat Hickey from Ireland slamming the McLaren report before it was even published.

Why can’t they see that this is eroding trust in the Olympics?

The Rio Olympics were always going to be a hard sell – a poverty-stricken country pumping millions into sport while citizens don’t have access to clean water or the ability to walk the streets safely after dark. And not only there, around the world cities are refusing to bid for future Olympics.

Add to that now the unedifying scenes of Russia’s main rivals screaming loudly for full bans, while tainted athletes from their own countries compete again post-suspension. In the meantime as long as Russia continues rubbishing the claims, what will change there?

This pic from the Huffington Post Brasil came along at just the right time - cocaine sold in Rio with the 5 rings and a note saying do not use in front of children:

Rio Olympics doping
PIC via Brasil Post

This week the IOC passed the baton to sports federations to decide who competes or not. Not to mention bizarely banning the Russian whistle-blower who made this all possible by denying  Yulia Stepanova a chance to compete.

WADA McLaren report IOC Olympics doping
McLaren report

As proof of doping becomes clearer, Irish athletes including Olive Loughnane have received medal upgrades over the last few months; shamefully late. But look at that list in the diagram above, so many people who lost out. How do you begin to make it up to them?

Olive Mclaughlin running Ireland athletics doping IOC Olympics WADA
Olive Loughnane Silver Medal (2009 WC) and now Gold (received 2016) via OliveLoughnane Twitter

The IOC have an opportunity here to extend the forensic examination done by McLaren to all countries or individual athletes suspected of doping. And Rio2016 should come under heavy scrutiny during the games or it will be seen as meaningless if it's not already ...

Personally I would prefer fewer record-breaking achievements and know the person it did so cleanly.

Pollyanna thinking? If we don’t believe it’s possible to curtail doping, how can we ever take sport seriously?

Read the McLaren report for WADA

The IOC decision following the McLaren report

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