ACTIVISTS from the cyber group ‘Fancy Bears’ released recently several batches of files, bringing to public attention that top world athletes are regularly receiving the green light from WADA to take banned substances under the so-called therapeutic use exemption (TUE) authorisation programme. The leaked classified information exposed a wide array of athletes from a number of countries, including the United States, United Kingdom and Germany. Among the most noticeable athletes listed is rower Mahe Drysdale of New Zealand, who won gold medals in the Rio 2016 and London 2012 Olympics.
The Fancy Bears became known to the public on Tuesday September 13, when they published the first batch of WADA documents that included medical tests of tennis superstars Serena and Venus Williams, along with Rio Olympic gold medallist gymnast Simone Biles.
Meanwhile Moscow, including President Putin himself, denied any links with the hackers – but acknowledged that since the information has been leaked, it is worth a public debate. “We don’t approve of what hackers do, but what they’ve done is definitely of interest to the international community, especially the sports community,” the Russian president said. “It raises a lot of questions. It turns out that healthy athletes legally take medications that are prohibited for others, and the people who obviously suffer from serious illnesses and severe disabilities are being banned from the Paralympics only on suspicion of using some kind of drugs.”
The author of the critical report on Russia’s alleged state-run doping programme Richard McLaren has admitted that the system of “therapeutic use exemptions”, brought to public attention by WADA hackers, can indeed be abused by athletes to legally take banned substances.
“One would have to conduct investigations on specific sports as to whether or not too many TUEs are being used with respect to particular substances,” Canadian law professor and sports lawyer Dr. Richard McLaren told the BBC.
McLaren went on to reiterate that his report, which was based on fugitive informants’ claims and anonymous testimonies, has proved the existence of a Kremlin-run doping programme “beyond reasonable doubt.” Thus, the lawyer once again expressed regret about the IOC’s decision to introduce only a partial ban on Russian athletes, as compared to the IPC, which slapped the Russian Paralympics team with a blanket ban.
Meanwhile Ron Katz, sports lawyer, Chair Emeritus of the Institute of Sports Law and Ethics at Stanford University, believes that “the McLaren report is not worth the paper that it’s printed on, and the reasons for that exist in McLaren report itself: he was not a neutral person, he had written a previous report against Russia, used anonymous sources – no court in a civilised country would allow anonymous sources to be the basis of the charge. He depended on an informant that was very unreliable.”
Definitely the Mclaren report and WADA decisions have been excessively influenced by sensational and exaggerated media reports. It denies the existence of clean Russian athletes, the intense training and honest hard work of many Russian athletes and coaches. It has fallen on people like world record holder Yelena Yisinbaeva to challenge the false assertions and question why she is being punished.
Doping is a long standing problem in many countries. Some of the most spectacular examples include Ben Johnson (Canada, 1998), Marion Jones (USA, 2000), and Tyson Gaye (USA, 2013). WADA statistics confirm that doping is a global problem. In 2011 a scientific study estimated that 29 – 45 percent of all track and field athletes internationally were doping. Sebastian Coe, current President of IAAF, tried to suppress news of the study.
Following WADA’s Independent Commission report in late 2015, Russian athletes have been tested through international certified laboratories. The frequency of testing has increased in an effort to demonstrate compliance with anti-doping rules and regulations. If there was still concern that Russian athletes were somehow cheating, the testing regime at the Rio Olympics should have been escalated. Instead, WADA and the Mclaren Report recommended banning all Russian athletes from the Olympics.
This looks like a politically motivated action. Washington and its Canadian vassal Mclaren are pressuring other countries to get on board with Washington’s vendetta against Russia. The vendetta is conducted under the cover of “protecting clean athletics.” Washington wants hegemony in sports just as it does in foreign affairs and wants Russian athletes out of the way so that Americans can win more medals. But this would be to miss the real point of Washington’s campaign against Russia. The “doping scandal” is part of Washington’s ongoing effort to isolate Russia and to build opposition to Putin inside Russia.
Europeans are disturbed by Washington’s politicisation of the Olympics. European Olympic Committee President Pat Hickey objected to Washington’s attempt to impose punishment “before any evidence has been presented”. Hickey said that it is clear from the Washington/Canadian effort that “both the independence and the confidentiality of the report have been compromised.”
One of the founding goals of the Olympic movement is to promote peaceful society instead of conflict. WADA has an important task that deserves support but not if it becomes a politically biased crusade. The targeting of Russia and indiscriminate punishment of their athletes is a betrayal of the Olympic spirit.
– Robert Cranzpol
Confidente. Lifting the Lid. Copyright © 2015