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7 Dec, 2019 14:14

WADA’s blurred lines & blind spots would lead to a moral blackout should it ban Russia

WADA’s blurred lines & blind spots would lead to a moral blackout should it ban Russia

Ahead of its crunch meeting to decide on whether to ban Russia, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has demonstrated a masterclass of what happens when blurred lines and blind spots lead to the brink of a moral blackout.

The climax of the latest WADA farce will take place when an executive committee will convene on Monday in Lausanne to decide whether to impose a draconian law to declare the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA) non-compliant for four whole years, excluding the nation from taking part in next year’s Tokyo Games and the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, China.

For all it’s posturing and pontificating, the reality is WADA’s credibility has disintegrated to the point the organization should be scorched and built from scratch. Its razor-thin lines drawn between what does and doesn’t constitute doping has seen lines drawn in the sand separating clean and unclean athletes become blurred beyond recognition.

Away from WADA’s close and careful gaze that is seemingly fixed on Russia, other athletes lurk in the blind spots with Therapeutic Use Exemption (TUE) forms projecting a saintly image of athletic purity and immunity. Blind faith in their own questionable ability to govern sport will see WADA next week contemplate wiping Russia off the sporting map.

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If so, that would represent a complete moral blackout for an organization formed with the purpose of bringing to light cheating in sport. If there is something that should be excluded, should be scrapped and rebooted from scratch, it is WADA itself. 

Formed to uphold consistency among anti-doping policies and regulations, it has oscillated between the far-fetched to the farcical in its never-ending quest to eradicate cheating.

Ahead of the meeting, there was some respite from the doom and gloom in the form of humor provided by none other than IOC president himself Thomas Bach. However unintentionally, Bach announced he was seeking from WADA the one thing that has proven elusive from the body for what seemed an eternity: clarity.

"I hope that WADA will be clear on the events to which this decision will refer and why it applies or not," Bach said on Thursday ahead of the showdown talks next week, referring ostensibly to which events would be affected by a prospective ban. 

Bach’s comments were made without even a hint of irony that clarity is casually bandied around by WADA when wading through the murkiest and muddiest waters the organization offers as explanations, reasonings and solutions.

But does the decision really matter? Excluding Russia from sport and consequently another Olympic Games will be far from the breath of fresh air that WADA is clearly gasping for - the stench of rank hypocrisy has already been allowed to linger over two Games already.

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When the fallout between Russia and WADA raised itself from the underbelly of the sport to rear its ugly head, it cast an almost indelible shadow over 2016 Rio Games and the PyeongChang Winter Olympics in South Korea two years later. 

For the first of those, perhaps the most sinister shadow of all was cast by the inhumane decision from the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) to ban Russia’s paralympians entirely from the Rio Games. 

While that action came in contrast to the IOC’s action not to lay a blanket ban over the Russian Olympic team due to findings in the McLaren report, it once again hinted at the harshness with which Russia is dealt with by major organizations.

That was backed up when in 2017 ahead of the PyeongChang Games when the ROC was suspended, meaning Russian athletes without any history of having ever doped were forced to compete under the Olympic Flag, effectively stripping the innocent of identity.

READ MORE: IOC knew Russian athletes were clean, but concealed evidence of their innocence – lawyer

Maybe that move was somewhat symbolic, as the identity of innocent athletes was flung into ambiguity by the emergence of leaked data, published by hacker group Fancy Bears, on TUE forms being issued to a number of elite athletes that allowed them to use the ever-changing alphabet soup of substances on WADA’s prohibited list.

Among them was track and field demi-god Mo Farah, who had been singled out on suspicion of doping by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) and had reportedly missed drug tests, conveniently stopping one short of the number that would warrant an Olympic ban.

Blurred lines, sure, but even the most cockeyed view of proceedings could see that missed drugs tests and exemption forms for ailments - that would quite possibly prevent a person from becoming an athlete altogether - would clearly warrant exclusion from sports much more than simply having the same nationality as a convicted cheater. But Sir Mo lived to run another day.

Also on rt.com Fancy Bears leak claims McLaren Report given ‘clear political order’ to exclude Russia from Olympics

If WADA was fit and proper to carry out its purpose of “bringing consistency to anti-doping policies and regulations within sport organizations,” it would not have bent its entire ethos to fit a mere few it holds in high esteem and condemned an entire nation because of a mere few, especially when their offences are fundamentally identical.

But then can they be blamed in sport's warped current climate? Team Sky and British cycling have operated for some time under a cloud of doubt as to their moral substance, until an inquiry blew the lid off their ‘winning clean’ motto, exposing it as an empty pledge.

This weekend’s world heavyweight boxing title fight, a rematch between Brit fighter Anthony Joshua and American Andy Ruiz, features no fewer than four of the 10 fighters on the undercard who have tested positive for banned substances. Not only that, but the fight is taking place in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, despite neither fighter having any connection to the Middle Eastern nation, a move that was condemned as ‘sport washing’ by Amnesty International.

And then even those who don’t dope are condemned and alienated. Female South African runner Caster Semenya has been publicly humiliated by an IAAF ruling that arbitrarily dictates she can run her preferred distance only if she “take approved medication to reduce their testosterone to predetermined levels.”

Also on rt.com 'They used me as a human guinea pig': Caster Semenya slams IAAF over testosterone reduction drugs

Oddly, Semenya, a biological woman who has no history of doping, has bemoaned a lack of support from fellow female athletes, who perhaps prefer the option of competing against a doped-up dominant leader in their sport to facing a naturally gifted phenomenon. But therein lies the name of the game: when losing, call on a helping hand from the powers that be.

Semenya’s case wouldn’t be too befuddling had it not happened in a time where biological females are forced to compete against transgender athletes. These wannabe women are backed by the woke brigade in their invasion of women’s sport to follow the same procedure of capping their hormone levels to relying only on their other biological advantages to see them to inevitable victory. 

It has already led to athletes such as New Zealander Laurel Hubbard smashing weightlifting records, American Mack Beggs choke and contort girls on the way to winning wrestling titles, and will surely not stop until women’s sport is crushed altogether in the name of ‘progressiveness’ and a feigned desire not to offend when taken to its logical conclusion.

Perhaps WADA will erase its moral high ground it so prolifically utilizes should it ban Russia for a further four years on Monday. But then again, perhaps Russia is better off away from a sporting world that bends the rules and blurs the lines between right and wrong doers. Perhaps a ban and the attention it would take away from Russia would create a clearer view of what WADA stands for, and bring the wider picture of a sports landscape tainted by deceit and chicanery into focus.

By Daniel Armstrong

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.