Poor sports: 'Russia stuck in middle of global athletics crisis'

© Vincent Carchietta
The best people in athletics do not proceed to the top. They take the money and the medals and disappear, leaving other less competent people to take over, says Martin McCauley, author and Russia analyst.

READ MORE: ‘Witch hunt’ not solution for doping in sport

The Intentional Olympics Committee called for disciplinary action in the wake of WADA’s report on alleged doping among Russian athletes.

RT: The World Anti-Doping Agency [WADA] report talks about thousands of athletes allegedly involved in the doping scheme. Can they all be Russians? Why is the focus on Russia now?

Martin McCauley: This is very interesting because they picked out Russia, because Russia is now in the dog house. I think it is because of a certain political atmosphere – the Cold War atmosphere you find in the world today. From the American point of view, you can’t say anything positive about Russia. And if there is anything negative – we say it and do them down and so on. So, therefore any American would in fact… criticize Russia. So, therefore it is very unfair - unbalanced in many ways - that they just picked put Russia because, as everyone knows, there are other countries involved; I better not mention any of them. Other countries are involved in doping and there are thousands of athletes all around the world. Nobody has yet pointed the finger at China because it may be too sensitive. The interesting thing is that WADA has made its recommendation which will go to the international organization IAAF [the Council], and the Council will in fact then either ban or not. But the chapter on the Council in the WADA report has been withheld because it has been sent to Interpol, because there had been fraud involved... Because of this, the Council will then be in a difficult position because how can a Council actually decide this if in fact it is being investigated by Interpol for fraud.

RT: Are WADA’s actions under question?

MM: Yes. And if you look at Seb Coe – he is now the president. But of course he was eight years as a deputy to [Lamine] Diack, and Diack is one of the ones they are fingering for fraud. Now, Seb Coe, could he spend 8 eight years as deputy president and not know anything? And if he knew something why didn’t he do something? Yet he is the man they are saying must clean up athletics. He changed his view. Yesterday he said: “Russia has to answer to these things and put the house right and then they can go to Brazil next year”. Today he changed his tune: “No, they should be banned…” So, somebody is putting pressure on him. So, therefore he is in a very delicate position because people look at his record and say: “He must have known something”.

© Eric Gaillard

RT: Why is the media focusing only on Russia now?

MM: It is very biased at present because it focuses on Russia. And if you look at FIFA, Russia got the 2018 FIFA World Cup and there was quite a lot of press coverage of that saying it should be taken away from Russia. And now you have Russia in a center again because of President Putin, because of Russia’s position in Eastern Ukraine and in Syria. And everybody is honed in on Russia. There is practically nothing which is positive being said about Russia. And it is going to be very difficult for Russia now because they have to offer more than proof that they are not guilty of some of these allegations or all the allegations, they have to come clean, there have been inspections and so on. And it is going to be very difficult. But that is only one aspect. The other is: athletics is in crisis. Football is in crisis; football is a business. But athletics that spans a whole world, and there are thousands of athletes who’ve been involved. One can go back to Ben Johnson in the Montreal Olympics; there have always been problems with doping in Olympics and in 2012 in London they talked about Russia sabotaging it. Well, Lord Coe was the vice president of IAAF and he was the one who ran the Olympics. And he at that time said: “There is a war against our sport – somebody had launched a war against our sport.” And, of course, it turns out that the war was justified because this sport is corrupt from the very beginning to the end. The question has been put: “Why is athletics so corrupt?” This is the greatest sporting scandal that has ever been. Why is it? And the answer appears to be that the people at the top are incompetent. The best people in athletics do not proceed to the top. They get the money and the medals and they go away, and they leave others to take over. And these people are incompetent. They can be easily corrupted. So, therefore, the sport has to be cleaned or changed from the top to the bottom. But this is going to be a colossal job because at the next Olympics in Brazil the average person around the world will look at it and say: “Well, did he win fairly or did he not? I don’t know.” We have to wait a few years because then his medal might be taken away - that would be dreadful for the sport. So, at present athletics is in a dog house, beside Russia. And athletics worldwide is in crisis.

RT: Why is there such a clash between WADA and the IOC?

MM: In athletics the right hand doesn’t know what the left hand is doing; it’s a complete mess because tomorrow they may change their tune and Lord Coe may say something else, so therefore this is an ongoing thing and it just underlines the fact that athletics is in a right mess. And Russia is in the middle of it. But the real villain is in fact athletics as a sport.

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