With reduced bans for doping cheats who blab on others, WADA seems to be turning into an intelligence agency, writes Roberto Pavoni
As Jack Bauer returns to our screens for a ninth season of the popular television series ’24’, it appears as though the World Anti Doping Agency has followed suit.
It is well known within the sporting world that since its formation in 1991, WADA has struggled to keep up in the race against doping. It always appears to be one step behind the dishonest, egotistical athletes who at some point in their careers decide they are not good enough without the help of performance enhancing drugs.
Unlike the majority of athletes, who see the physical battle of training and competition and the conquering of obstacles as the ultimate reward for their efforts, these frauds elect to cheat their way to the top in search of fame, fortune and glory.
There are those who argue that dopers are just weak, and it is the readily available drugs and the companies producing them who are to blame. From an athlete’s perspective this is nonsense because regardless of the pharmaceutically enhanced capabilities on offer, the majority have never been tempted in the slightest.
Nevertheless, it is true that in the absence of these multi-million dollar corporations, doping would be a more difficult act.
Working in parallel to these businesses are corrupt scientists, coaches and nutritionists all channelling their athletes into moral misconduct. And so in order to penetrate this murky world, WADA are beginning the transition into a CIA-like institution, having decided that investigation and intelligence tactics are just as important as testing.
From 1st January 2015, WADA’s new Code comes into force with provisions that incentivise “early cooperation and information sharing by persons who are accused of doping violations’. It further states that ‘admitting a violation can be rewarded with a reduced ban’.
We have already seen how this might be applied in the top American sprinter Tyson Gay, who was given just half of the standard two-year punishment thanks to his cooperation with investigators.
Perhaps most frightening for those of us dedicated to clean, transparent sport, is that according to Article 10.6 of the new Code, ‘WADA will have the power to eliminate a ban in its entirety’.
It is easy to imagine a scene where an athlete is sitting behind a table in a featureless, windowless interrogation room, his lawyer adjacent, leaking information to the authorities on the other side of the table as they search for the big fish in the drugs operation: the supplier.
Betrayal: the one thing that you can rely on a disgraced athlete for. It won’t be too long before they are pointing the finger at someone else to save their own skin. These people are only ever after personal gains and their selfishness is what WADA is counting on.
In the grand scheme of things, evidence regarding processes of manufacture, transportation, and administration of these drugs will lead to a reduction in doping cases in the future. But seeing the likes of Russian swimmer Yuliya Efimova back in the pool at any stage in the future, let alone those who have escaped a ban altogether, will be hard to accept.