The sport of athletics truly lies in tatters. An extraordinary World Anti Doping Agency’s (WADA) report has confirmed systemic institutionalised doping involving Russian athletes, coaches trainers, doctors, bureaucrats and even the secret police. The commission goes on to strongly recommend that Russia be blocked from participating in the 2016 Rio Olympics till the countries anti-doping controls are rectified, and that 5 athletes and 5 coaches should be banned for life. The inquiry also recommends that the anti-doping lab in Moscow should lose its accreditation because it indulged in “intentional and malicious destruction” of more than 1400 blood and urine samples despite WADA’s formal notification to preserve them.
The report has noted lapses of action by the International Amateur Athletics Federations and the Russian Anti-Doping Agency leading to the London Olympics in 2012 in conjunction “with pursuing suspicious files” and as a consequence of widespread inaction the London Olympics were in effect “sabotaged” by permitting identified dopers to compete in a stadium built by ore than half a billion pounds of tax payers money. The WADA commission investigated allegations of institutionalized doping in Russia by a German documentary beamed in December 2014.
The French police have recently arrested Lamine Diack, the former IAAF president for 16 years for accepting $1 million in exchange for concealing positive drug tests. The IAAF legal-adviser Habib Cisse and the former head of the IAAF’s anti-doping unit have also been arrested. Dick Pound (chairman of the 3 member WADA committee) said he was holding back part of the WADA report that “identifies corruption and bribery practices at the highest levels of international athletics, evidence of which has been transmitted to Interpol for appropriate investigation.” Interpol has declared that it was conducting an ongoing investigation into the “alleged global doping corruption scam”.
It is clear that Russia is not the only country and athletics is not the only sport with a doping problem. It was always well known that America’s “greatest” athlete Carl Lewis failed 3 teats during trial for the 1988 Olympics but US officials covered this up. The US Olympics Committee denied then that 114 positive tests had been routinely washed down sinks to “protect” the sport. Russia won 81 medals in the London 2012 games; 24 of them gold of which 17 were obtained in track and field.
The exhaustive and often repetitive WADA report unearthing rampant global doping, however, has almost exclusively concentrated only on Russian athletics despite acknowledging that the cancer has spread worldwide. India, astoundingly, despite being one of the top offenders is not mentioned at all in the report. Turkey second to Russia in number of anti-doping violations merits just one page in the more than 325 page report. But Indian athletes plus officials would probably need to be fully prepared to face an Interpol inquiry because India.
Numerous Indian athletes despite extensive cover up by coaches and officials have been exposed and penalized for using PED’s. The Indian Olympic Committee strangely has always had a fascination for coaches from Eastern Europe and methods employed are crude and easily detected. Anabolic steroid injections and pills are freely available over the counter in India and it is not uncommon to spot used injections lying around during important athletic competitions across the country. It is imperative that the media informs the Indian public of the international embarrassment we face by the expose of the WADA report. Today’s national dailies expectedly carry front-page headlines of N. Srinivasan’s sacking by the BCCI whilst leading international newspapers are loudly reporting on the scourge of doping in athletics. The Indian sports minister needs to take a long hard look at cheating by Indian sportspersons if not for the image of the nation for the concern of an Interpol probe. A list of Indian sportspersons embroiled in doping can be easily googled but this merely is the proverbial tip of the iceberg. Sooner than later WADA will turn it’s attention to India. Governance should not be confused with business and winning cannot be at the cost of kickbacks to corrupt coaches and officials. The Russians did that to their eternal shame.