McLaren Report proves sport governing bodies 'useless as a chocolate teapot'
In 2014, Craig Reedie, The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) President praised Russia for being clean. At the 2012 Olympics in London (the cleanest games ever) no Russians were accused of doping. Sochi in 2014, ditto. Yet with re-testing and hindsight, Russia allegedly operated a smooth system to keep athletes clean since 2011.
The doping test samples of 12 Russian medalists from the Sochi Olympics in 2014 were tampered with, according to claims made in the second part of a WADA-commissioned report, authored by Canadian lawyer Richard McLaren.
Having perused Chapters 1-3 and 6-7 (though skimming the bulk of 4-5), it is painful reading. Painful in that this whole time athletes were apparently damaging their bodies and minds to make a living and bring glory to their nation.
Of course, WADA today claims Russia is only the beginning. And we wish to believe it will be so. We want to believe in many things this December, Santa Claus, and his elves being among them. Yet the gnawing feeling of doubt over the motivation behind the report grows.
We know that doping is a global poison. We have known this for many years, and it is not limited to Russia, UK, USA, China or Eastern Europe. It’s not even confined to the Nike Oregon Project which was so brutally exposed by whistleblower Steve Magness in 2015. Doping is not limited to Jamaica with its wonderful athletes and non-existent anti-doping system, as presented by whistleblower Renee Anne Shirley. Go to any gym and you can source dangerous banned substances. It is a damning fact that we will use deadly substances to look, perform or feel better.
Now look at the origin of this sad story concerning Russia. A husband and wife team who were not refunded their hush money in full, they sell their story to the highest bidder. The highest bidder who genuinely has exposed drug cheats and corruption not alone in Russia, but in their homeland. Yet now these 'whistleblowers' turn on that bidder in search of more money. They didn’t blow the whistle to stem the tide of athletes self-harming, they did it for money. Their motivation was and is clear.
Whistleblower #2, and the man who made McLaren possible, Grigori Rodchenkov. A person whose criminal enterprise was laid bare by the report. As soon as the heat grew he escaped to the USA and sold his story. Leaving behind his accomplices (including his sister) to take the fall, the Bad Doctor gave chapter and verse on how Russia did doping better than anyone else. Like Yulia Stepanova’s husband Vitaliy, earning money from criminal activities was okay until the opportunity to turn on former associates. Rodchenkov’s story is more gross than engrossing, but why let his criminality get in the way of a fairytale.
Of course Rodchenkov’s criminal deeds made little impact in 2012 when Russia finished a distant 4th in the final medals table behind the USA, China and Great Britain. Though the tests he claims to manipulated, along with the drugs he, his sister and their cabal supplied, are supposed to have made a difference. The World Athletics Championships in Moscow in 2013 are tainted by dastardly Russian doping, with Rodchenkov’s hand visible. Yet Russia picked up 8 less medals than the USA and only 5 more than Kenya. WADA promised that McLaren’s report in July would be a watershed for clean sport. There would be honesty and fair play for all. No more doping allowed, anywhere! It was all a lie.
In Rio, it all changed at the top of the medals table. The USA led the way with 121 medals, and Great Britain moved up into 2nd with China tumbling to 3rd. And 4th place again was… you guessed it, Russia! So the top three remained in place while Russia continued to be a successful also ran. This without all but two athletes and swimmers. It was justice and a show of strength for clean sport. Or was it?
No. It was a lie. We’ve already seen how thousands of athletes went untested before the Olympics, many from high-risk sports. And during the games up to half the athletes sought for testing were not available on those days. As with the cleanest games in history in 2012, Rio showed that there was little change or attention to catching those who would harm themselves and sport. Instead, there was motivation to get rid of a serious medal contender and score political points.
Amid all the furor today, some more newsworthy items slipped out intentionally. Quintuple Olympic Gold medal winner (eight medals in all) Team GB cyclist Bradley Wiggins was absolved of his doping links, and 83 suspected sex abusers were brought to light in English football. And a free pass was given to former doper turned whistleblower Yulia Stepanova, named in the BBC’s top 100 women. Oddly, whistleblower Renee Anne Shirley, who ruined her career, was left off the list.
While the attacks on Russia and Russian sport will continue growing intensely to strip the country of the 2018 FIFA World Cup, there was a piece of humanity shown at the end of his report by Mr. McLaren which was patently ignored by the media en masse.
“It is time for everyone to step down from their positions and end the accusations against each other. I would urge international sports leadership to take account of what is known and contained in the reports, use the information constructively to work together, and correct what is wrong.”
I admire and respect this sentiment. However the fact remains, no matter what Russia does or says. No matter what the Ministry for Sport or Kremlin does, nothing will be enough. The goal posts will move, the bar will be raised, the lies and attacks will continue. What we can take from this report today is that sports are a crock and sports media is a joke. And we cannot trust the governing bodies to be fair and honest.
Russia does have issues with doping. Deputy Prime Minister Mutko and President Putin both acknowledged this and pledged to fight it. However, as the USA well knows, declaring war on a word has little effect. In this vein, Russia can go one better by growing the already active child and youth information projects. To continue telling children, parents and coaches that taking part in sport is an end in itself. That if you have to dope to compete at the highest level, it is no longer a sport but business. Unless we embrace sport as a means to bringing people together, we are lost.
Russia is the global whipping boy and can only emphasize the parting words of McLaren. We need to work together to correct what is wrong. Not just in sports.
Alan Moore, for RT
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.