There is an interesting parallel between the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign and the ongoing drug and corruption scandal darkening the halls of the IAAF.
Though Republican candidate Donald Trump and Democrat Bernie Sanders stand on opposite sides of the political spectrum, both represent strong outsider positions suggesting the political system has been rigged by too close an association between politicians and business interests whose greenback contributions subvert the pol’s allegiance to the constituents they were elected to represent.
Last night at the Democratic presidential debate in New Hampshire between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, the thrust of the Vermont senator’s critique centered on Secretary Clinton’s financial ties to Wall Street and Big Pharma. Without disavowing the $675,000 she received for three speeches to Goldman Sachs, Clinton dismissed what she called Sander’s “artful smear”, declaring there was never a quid pro quo, nor had she ever changed a vote based on such financial considerations.
On the Republican side, Donald Trump has gained much of his political traction by harping, “I am self-funding my campaign,” inferring he wouldn’t be beholden to any of the special interest groups that largely fund his opponents (though his sizable wealth makes him something of a one-man special interest).
Within the ranks of the IAAF, new president Sebastian Coe has been roundly criticized for, among other things, not giving up a lucrative contract with Nike (for being one of its brand ambassadors) until pressured to do so in the wake of the scandal that has his predecessor Lamine Diack awaiting further visits from the French gendarmes on corruption and extortion charges.
In the WADA-funded Independent Commission report that followed Diack’s retirement, I.C. chair Dick Pound implicated not only Diack for his alleged crimes, but also called out the entire IAAF Council, including Coe, for its willful disregard in allowing corruption to become so embedded in the organization. But then, in a head-snapping move, Pound endorsed the two-time Olympic champion as the ideal man to oversee the necessary reforms. Blind man as watchdog, interesting concept. Continue reading