If you follow sports, you probably have heard about Barry Bonds, Maria Sharapova, Tyson Gay, Diego Maradona, or Lance Armstrong. Without even mentioning their athletic achievements, you could outline one thing these athletes have in common. They dope. How could anyone know about these cases without an investigation? Some say instinct, a random guess or an educated guess, but global scientists have come to the conclusion that the anti-doping system in sports does not work; you cannot catch an athlete who is doping, and with the proper advisors, an athlete like Lance Armstrong can test clean for over 500 doping tests.
What if it was not just the individuals in sports who were meddling with the anti-doping system? Is it possible that entire countries could be in charge of a state-sponsored program for sports? In December 2014, ARD, a German broadcaster, released a 30-minute documentary reporting on how Russia had a state-sponsored doping program. By November 2015, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) released a 335-page report, which included a statement by the former WADA director in Moscow, Grigory Rodchenkov, that Russia indeed had a state-sponsored doping program. WADA had knowledge of this program for four years before it was released, but was held in account of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and its recommendation to withhold that information from the public. Although the basis of the information was released, the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) only suspended Russia’s Track and Field team.
Incredibly, the IOC would be presented a recommendation from WADA that Russia should be banned from the 2016 Rio Olympics due to its disregard for the World Anti-Doping Code, and was rejected. Professor Richard H. McLaren detailed findings of the 2014 allegations of Russian doping in a two-part report, which was done as a response to Grigory Rodchenkov’s statements. Weeks after the release of part I of McLaren’s report, which contained over 1,200 pages of evidence, along with forensic evidence of the swapping of urine bottles at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, the IOC allowed the majority of Russian athletes to compete at the Summer Olympics in 2016.
Some may argue that the IOC is attempting to “sweep under the rug” evidence of a Russian-sponsored doping program. To put into perspective the actions the IOC took, which include almost nothing, the International Paralympic Committee voted unanimously to ban all Russian athletes from the 2016 Paralympic games. The same evidence found that over 1,000 athletes in more than 30 sports were doping, yet the IPC took more action than the IOC did by far; however, there are two IOC investigations taking place to review all of Professor McLaren’s reports in his two-part odyssey.
While the original investigation focused solely on Track and Field along with individual investigations, due to the fact that the evidence was so staggering in favor of the doping allegations, the IAAF upheld the allegations because of Rodchenkov’s additional information. In turn, these allegations would create a larger question with what else Russia or other countries have been interfering in their sports programs. The impact of these findings, along with the Russian government’s response to indict Grigory, will continue to grow as we approach the 2018 World Cup in Russia, and the 2018 Winter games in PyeongChang, South Korea.
The morality for athletes to dope in sports is malicious at best. To not compete clean is to break the rules, and can lead to life-threatening consequences. In the Mixed Martial Arts world, cheating is not a matter of getting to the finish line first; it is a matter of an individual punching or kicking another person, to which they could not be doing if they had not been cheating. Imagine that a fighter who is doping beats another fighter in the ring because of their doping, and this results in serious damage or death. A case could be made, that not only was there illegal activity in the matter of doping, but assault or manslaughter charges could follow.
State-sponsored doping does not put the government on the line; it puts the athletes and their bodies on the line. With more evidence and information being reported by WADA, federal investigators or individual investigators like Professor McLaren, we will see the continued impact of doping and national interference of sports. We will find more information on the Russian program, and perhaps those of several other countries such as China, Germany, Great Britain, Jamaica and the United States.
Edited by Zachary Nickl