Following-on from the earlier FIFA corruption exposures earlier this year involving international football (seven top officials arrested and charged with operating a hundred million pound racket) we find that on Monday afternoon there was finally published (after a nearly year-long review) a massive damming report of drug taking by top athletes, an unprecedented cover-up by those in authority, and severe financial corruption at the highest levels of the sport.
All that may have shocked us all, but it hasn’t come as much of a surprise to many people, has it? NO. As soon as you get big bucks in any area of society, you get criminality raising its ugly head don’t you? Back in the old days, athletics was a clean sport – because it was purely an amateur leisure type activity which nobody earned a living in it, let alone raked-in mega money for sponsorship, endorsement, success and winning things (those days it was only admiration, records, and a handful of medals for the very best). Nowadays though, it is virtually a hundred percent professional sport where athletes and their hangers-on need to protect their massive incomes (the top ones earn millions) and when that means cheating, it becomes a no-brainer doesn’t it? In modern times that means using illegal performance-boosting drugs (there are no longer any moral standards left in many athletes, are there?).
It has all come about because of the drug abusers expose by the sixty-five year old -independent state German television and radio broadcasting service ARD and their investigative journalism. Why does it always seem to take that kind of private media activity to establish the truth and identify large levels of wrong-doing and criminality in our societies? Why is it never the correct authorities charged with direct responsibility – law enforcement operations, police, auditors, or regulatory bodies et all – who dish the beans? Close to home we have had the example that it took the Sunday Times Insight team in 2006 to identify the falsehood of published fraudulent research on the MMR vaccine (a senior doctor was eventually struck-off) – not the medical magazines themselves (like the BMJ), nor the General Medical Council, nor the NHS, nor the BMA, nor any other medical regulatory authority, eh? It was also the Sunday Times that reported on the corruption at FIFA, that has led to criminal charges and suspension of its President. Or the Daily Mail who exposed the wrongness of a paediatrician, who had caused three women to be wrongly jailed in ‘shaken baby’ trials that got them released from prison. Or the Guardian identifying the illegal phone-hacking by the News of the World that finally brought about the demise of that title – and many other examples to boot.
There has been a thorough lengthy landmark investigation by Dick Pound (ex doping agency boss), which has implicated former IAAF President Lamine Diack, with large sums of money being extorted and laundered from athletes (not solely but particularly identifying the Russians), and officials profiteering from institutionalised corruption. The findings point to widely spread drug cheating (orchestrated in and state sponsored by Russia and involving direct intimidation by their security services) and bribery to boot. It is also said that, as a consequence, our apparently ultra successful 2012 London Olympic Games was effectively sabotaged by the IAAF by them allowing known drug cheats to compete and win medals instead of their clean worldwide competitors from a couple of hundred nations. Certain top Russian athletes are facing lifetime bans (five of them), as well as some coaches. There has been concealment of positive doping tests. An accredited Moscow testing lab is accused, as part of the cover-up, of destroying a massive amount of doping samples shortly before the investigation got to them.
The Report, despite being over three hundred pages long, is not complete, as some information has had to be removed to protect criminal proceedings that are underway against certain top individuals. The big and controversial recommendation in the bombshell Report is that all Russian athletes should now be banned from all international competition until their national federation gets their anti-doping act in order – and that includes the Rio Olympics next year. As to be expected the Russians deny it all of course, and say the report is political.
Is Britain’s supposedly squeaky-clean, four Olympic medals winner (two gold), and London Olympic supremo Sebastian Coe’s position now untenable? Surely he must have known what was going on, or had suspicions about wrong doing, or should have known something was adrift, or been close to rumours about a cabal, or must have been aware of the devastating storm on the way, eh? He was after all a Vice-President of athletics’ world governing body IAAF` for some EIGHT YEARS for god’s sake – what the heck was he doing (or not doing)? He is also a hundred grand a year paid brand ambassador for Nike – so how was that compatible with his role in IAAF, or indeed taking over the unpaid Presidency this summer from the man he praised lavishly and is now his disgraced predecessor (because Lord Coe is still at it having been on their payroll apparently for some thirty years)? [Nike also sponsors convicted two times drug cheat (with two bans), the American sprinter Justin Gatlin].
Coe greeted the news of the German’s expose with distain, originally not accepting the allegations (calling it ‘a declaration of war’ on his sport – a comment he still stands by it is said), and even very recently pooh-poohed the importance of this new Report before it was published. Only now is he changing his tune a bit (admitting hat the findings were alarming, but seems still to be in the camp to protect the sport’s image rather than vigorously pursue the cheats, or take banning action against the Russians – he wants to low ball things it seems. A number of counties have a track record of drug cheating (old East Germany was a past known abuser), and they all need to be stopped.
Some say Coe is the right man to clean-up the IAAF and increasingly many others do not have faith and think he doesn’t have the will or guts, so cannot be trusted with the challenge to do the job, eh? He wouldn’t even meet with Dick Pound, would he?
[The IAAF meets today to decide on the sanctions to be taken against Russia – perhaps we should then know where this is going, eh?]