These days accusations fly across the political spectrum faster than shuttlecocks in an ambidextrous badminton tournament. But what’s a lie, and who’s to say? There’s your question for the new year, kiddies.
News that Russia missed the New Year’s Eve deadline to hand over data to the World Anti-Doping Agency from the laboratory in Moscow where its state-sponsored doping program was centered somehow caught WADA President Craig Reedie by surprise. “Bitterly disappointed”, I believe that was his quote.
And you would be disappointed, too, if you had stepped out in November to recommend Russia be readmitted to international competition, despite not yet having met WADA’s conditions for that reinstatement. “I find it very hard to believe that the guarantees, made to us by the Russian authorities, that they won’t deliver.”
Really? When murdering journalists and political opponents are normative behavior, where do you think doping in athletics falls on the New Year’s resolution To Do list?
Yes, that’s about as cynical as it gets, but you get a feeling Russia is playing this doping scandal with WADA like American financial institutions played the U.S. government during the 2008 economic meltdown, too big to fail. How long can the international athletics community keep Russia out and maintain that it’s a viable worldwide sport?
I remember Frank Shorter telling me one time there are only two nations that take fair play seriously, the United States and England. Everyone else looks at you like you still believe in the Tooth Fairy and Bigfoot. At the same time, greed and deprivation are powerful motivators, just ask Paul Manafort or any 1960s Bulgarian weightlifter. When there’s everything to gain or nothing left to lose, where is the disincentive to doping or any other crime? China may have come to a similar conclusion about human nature as it begins instituting criminal penalties for doping offenses in 2019.
And I have written about this issue regularly over the course of this blog. WHO HAS TO FIGHT THE LAW?
Only time will tell whether Russia will relent, WADA caves or China will prove its criminal penalties model to be viable. In any regard, while it may indeed be a new year, it looks like it’s still the same old us, querulous primates imbued with fear and driven by jealousy, always at the ready to defend the indefensible.