JournalismPakistan.com November 22, 2015
Scandals in sport are not new. They happen. But taking bribes for choosing venues or fiddling the books or misusing one’s authority to make a buck while certainly well in the realm of crimes and deserving of punishment are several steps below a trusted leadership engaging in hijacking a whole sport by permitting doping and turning medals into melted plastic. If the guardians of the gate burn the bridge what price trust.
Never has the credibility of international athletics been so fragile as it is today. With soccer and cycling already reeling under accusations of corruption and drug misuse, their indiscretions seem to pale in comparison to what has been happening on the track.
Three major blows is usually a knockout. The accusation against Russia for having engaged in a state sponsored program designed to enhance performances illegally for the 2012 Olympics in London is almost comical in its tragedy. The provisional ban from taking part in Rio is a stinging rebuke. This shame is backed by the discovery of a Swiss laboratory allegedly destroying 67 test results that were ‘suspicious’ and replacing them with clean ones. This would make such a bad plot for a B grade film.
And to cap these tawdry revelations came the bribery charges by the French police against former IAAF President Lamine Diack and his team which, ironically, included the ex-anti doping chief Gabriel Dolle. Also in the dock is Diack Jr who will face charges of having breached the Code of Ethics, an umbrella clause that covers about everything. They are accused of having taken huge sums of money to cover up doping incidents by Russian athletes. And if you think the next ‘guilty’ person is the janitor, think again. Also on the French ‘wanted’ list is IAAF legal adviser Habib Cissé for having been complicit in this conspiracy. This gives the phrase ‘an inside job’ a whole new dimension.
IAAF President Lord Sebastian Coe and his team have a very steep hill to climb. And the really sad part is that it is the athletes who suffer. Some totally innocent, others naive and unaware of the program they were ordered to undergo, several of them victims of the ambitions of their managers and coaches and a few ready to do the dirty for the power and the glory.
All of them tainted with the same brush.
The very fact that the nominees like Usain Bolt, British Olympic and World champion Mo Farah, Kenyan marathoner Eliud Kipchoge and Russian hurdler Sergey Shubenkov, Dafne Schippers of the Netherlands, Mare Dibaba of Ethiopia and Zuzana Hejnova of Russia will have to apologetically be sneaked into some low key venue at a later date and receive accolades does sour the limelight.
Hanging over all this is the big issue. After the world of athletics had suffered the ignominy of the Ben Johnson and the fallout of the Balco conspiracy there was a call to give participants blood passports. If the IAAF stamped them knowing they were doubtful in values that makes this disclosure weave the whole nine yards into the biggest scandal in sporting history.
And the unravelling has just begun.
(The writer is a Senior Editorial Advisor of Khaleej Times and the paper’s former Editor. He has also been the Editor of Gulf News, Gulf Today, Emirates Today and Bahrain Tribune)
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