KEIR RADNEDGE COMMENTARY —- The more Olympic leaders lay into WADA the more damage they inflict upon their own movement, the Games themselves and the credibility of sport in general. Time to stop playing spoiled brats and grow up.
Certainly the World Anti-Doping Agency is far from perfect. On occasion it has proved its own worst enemy. Going back years it was desperately inactive over initial concerns about an endemic doping system in Russian sport. It had to be jolted into action, kicking and screaming, by the media (as did the IAAF, IOC etc – WADA was not alone but was charged, after all. with supreme responsibility).
Most recently, WADA’s talent for coming up with PR own goals was demonstrated by the egregious timing of the announcement of the suspension of the Doha sample-testing laboratory.
The suspension was activated from November 7 and there can have been no significant reason for the announcement not to have been made that same day.
Instead WADA went public a week later just when the self-styled great and the good of the Olympic family and the International Olympic Committee were flying in to Qatar for the general assembly of the Association of National Olympic Committees.
Hence the run-up to what ANOC president Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Sabah had planned as a grand, self-congratulatory party was overshadowed by news of the Doha lab ban.
If anyone within WADA had been of a deliberately subversive mindset they could not have better timed the announcement to pour even more fuel on the fire.
Sheikh Ahmad seized full advantage, publicly flaying WADA – and by implication its president Sir Craig Reedie – and demanding ‘neutral’ leadership.
The sheer gall of a Spanish delegate to whine about WADA – Spain, the country which harboured the notorious Dr Fuentes and whose judges tried to protect and destroy the evidence even after his eventual ‘slap on the wrist’ trial – was mind-blowing.
Spain is the country which has benefited from a timeless free pass by WADA over incomplete anti-doping legislation because of its year-long governmental chaos. Alejandro Blanco and his team should have been cheering on WADA in grateful relief, not stabbing both it and Reedie in the back.
As for Sheikh Ahmad and his wounded presidential pride, was this all merely a self-justifying, aggrandising distraction from his problems back home in Kuwait?
His complaint that nasty reports spoiled the atmosphere of his Olympic meetings was risible in the extreme. Was this a serious complaint from a man who professes to play his power games for the good of sport?
In any case, given that WADA is funded half and half by the IOC and national governments, how a ‘neutral’ president can be appointed as ANOC subsequently endorsed is baffling but his message was clear.
However, there is another message coming through with even greater volume.
This power battle needs to end.
The problem lies with individual sports federations being protective and jealous of their own autonomy; they do not want some Big Brother – WADA in this case – empowered to stretch its tentacles into the heart of how they run their own affairs.
They have seen how the likes of FIFA and the IOC have been savaged for what has been exposed in the dark and grimy corners and they fear any one else possessing the power to do the same and what that would bring to public light.
Trouble is, if WADA is neutered then the game is up. Not only for WADA but for the credibility of international sport in general and, in particular, the Olympic Games and the IOC’s network of frightened but powerful international sports federations.
Never mind ‘neutral’ presidents.
The IOC should raise its financial stake in WADA’s work, whether national governments are prepared to do so or not. It should lead the way, set an example. Not keep running away.
That will only free the field for the dope cheats to triumph.
And then what?