Monday, November 9, 2015 at 3:38 PM

In Putin’s Russia Even Athletics Is a Criminal (Doping) Enterprise

Posted by Anthony L. Hall

Putin and his cronies used the $51-billion Sochi Olympics as an egregious kickback scheme. Nothing betrays this fact quite like Sochi already looking like a crumbling, desolate North Korean settlement just weeks after the end of the Games.

(“Prokhorov, Russian Owner of NBA Nets, Exposed,” The iPINIONS Journal, March 26, 2014)

1420660749_1_9_mEtY16BL-274x300I wrote the above in part to vindicate my abiding assertion that Russian President Vladimir Putin lords over a kleptocracy that has fleeced public funds on such unprecedented scale, it makes African kleptocracies look petty.

Little did I know, however, that Russia’s cover-up of kickbacks going into the 2014 Sochi Olympics paled in comparison to the cover-up of doping during them.

In a devastatingly critical report, a World Anti-Doping Agency [WADA] panel accused the Russian government on Monday of complicity in widespread doping and cover-ups by its track and field athletes and said they should all be banned from competition until the country cleans up its act.

The report from a WADA commission that has been probing media allegations of widespread doping and deception in Russia said even the country’s intelligence service, the FSB, was involved, spying on Moscow’s anti-doping lab, including during last year’s Winter Olympics in Sochi…

It also said the International Olympic Committee [IOC] should not accept any entries from the Russian federation until the body has been declared complaint with the code and the suspension has been lifted [which] could keep Russian athletes out of next year’s Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

(Associated Press, November 9, 2015)

Screen Shot 2015-11-09 at 1.57.39 PMFrankly, not since Adolf Hitler presided over the 1936 Berlin Olympics has a leader been so determined to see his country win the overall medal count. Only this fanatical nationalism explains Putin dispatching members of his special police to ensure that no Russian athlete tests positive – no matter how dedicated that athlete’s doping for Sochi.

Incidentally, in 1936, Hitler’s Germany won with 89 medals – notwithstanding the black mark Jesse Owens inflicted with his gold-medal performances, especially in the Men’s 100m; the United States was second with 56. In 2014, Putin’s Russia won with 33; the United States was second with 28.

Screen Shot 2015-11-09 at 2.20.48 PMNevertheless, I do not agree with WADA’s recommendation to ban all Russian athletes from international competition, including the 2016 Rio Olympics.

There’s no evidence indicating that governments in other top-performing countries (e.g., Jamaica for Summer Games or the United States for Winter Games) have aided and abetted doping the way the Russian government did. But there’s more than sufficient prima facie evidence to suspect that athletes from those countries engage in doping just as much as athletes from Russia do.

USA Today reported on Sunday that America’s fastest man, Tyson Gay, and virtually everyone on Jamaica’s Track team (except the world’s fastest man, Usain Bolt) have tested positive for banned substances.

But, after Marion Jones, if you’re still shocked to learn that any Track star is a cheat, you’d probably also be shocked to learn that Santa Claus is a fake.

(“Now Tyson Gay et al: Drugs as Rampant in Track as in Cycling,” The iPINIONS Journal, July 16, 2013)

This is why WADA should enlist the governing bodies of all major sports to ban Russia from hosting any sanctioned competition, so long as Putin remains in power. Because, no matter their representations, officials in Putin’s Russia will never implement the reforms WADA deems are necessary to eradicate systemic doping.

As it happens, soccer’s governing body, FIFA, is in a similar doghouse. And, ironically, nothing would show its determination to implement the reforms Western governments deem are necessary to eradicate systemic corruption quite like withdrawing Russia’s highly coveted hosting gig for the 2018 World Cup. (I duly commented on this corruption just months ago in “FIFA – Soccer’s Federation of Imbeciles, Fraudsters, and Autocrats,” May 29, 2015.)

But WADA should not stigmatize and penalize Russian athletes – who subjected themselves to independent testing and never tested positive – with collective punishment.

Moreover, banning athletes would betray my enlightened plea to legalize all performance-enhancing drugs. Here is how I offered it almost ten years ago in “A Plea for Landis, Gatlin, et al: Legalize Drugs … Especially in Sports,” August 3, 2006.

___________________

I wholly endorse the libertarian view that adults should be allowed to use any recreational drug they desire without fear of prosecution – so long as that use does not harm innocent third parties. And I have no patience for trite and inherently flawed moral arguments to the contrary, unless proffered by a bona fide puritan who would also criminalize alcohol, cigarettes, pre-marital sex, etc. …

It follows therefore that I believe policing drugs in professional sports is not only Orwellian but also utterly futile. After all … there’s no denying that athletes have always done or taken, and will always do or take, anything to gain a competitive advantage. And, if what they do or take in this respect poses no harm to anyone except themselves, then who cares!

___________________

marionjonesc-711891Not to mention that even more sophisticated and trustworthy labs (i.e., those not operating under duress from the secret police) have failed to catch doping fiends in their tracks. As alluded to above, Exhibit A for this argument is the Olympian performance Marion Jones got away with at the 2000 Sydney Olympics. But there’s also this damning WADA admission:

The World Anti-Doping Agency commission said the London Olympics were more or less sabotaged by allowing Russian athletes to compete when they should have been suspended for doping violations.

(Associated Press, November 9, 2015)

Indeed, that it’s virtually impossible to prevent most athletes from duping in-competition doping tests clearly vindicates/supports my plea. After all, even though WADA accuses Russian athletes of sabotaging the London Olympics, only seven of the thirty-eight athletes disqualified for doping were Russians.

Accordingly, I reiterate that:

Jones is only the latest, though admittedly the most famous, professional athlete to be caught in a web of lies about steroid use. Unfortunately, her fall from grace will leave fans of every Olympic sport wondering, quite rightly: If Marion wasn’t clean, who is?

(“Jones Admits Using Steroids…,” The iPINIONS Journal, October 12, 2007)

Related commentaries:
Now Tyson
Jones admits
FIFA
A plea

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