Russia's doping corruption scam: a world wide problem

10 November 2015 2:39 pm

An explosive report by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has exposed the way Russian athletes, trainers and coaches, backed by the Russian government and intelligence service, created a covert doping scheme to dominate track and field events around the world.

“What made these allegations even more egregious was the knowledge that the government of the Russian Federation provides direct funding and oversight for the above institutions, thus suggesting that the federal government was not only complicit in the collusion, but that it was effectively a state-sponsored regime,” the report said.

It tells us how Liliya Shobukhova, a former Chicago Marathon winner, worked together with Russian officials to bribe international sporting officials who had served her with a doping ban. It also named a half-dozen Russian coaches by name. They demanded payments from athletes to receive their performance-enhancing drugs.

Rebecca Ruiz at the New York Times goes into great detail about what they actually did. “Athletes adopted false identities to avoid unexpected testing. Some paid to make doping violations disappear. Others bribed the antidoping authorities to ensure favorable results, and top sports officials routinely submitted bogus urine samples for athletes who were doping.”

This is not just cheating, it is the kind of orchestrated and calculated corruption that would make someone like Lance Armstrong look like a choir boy.

Athletics Australia chief executive Phil Jones has called for Russia to be banned from next year’s games in Rio.

But that’s just the beginning. Interpol has announced it’s now investigating an alleged international corruption scam involving sports officials as well as athletes suspected of a doping cover-up.

And that's important because this sort corruption is not just about Russia. Think of FIFA, think of the 1988 Olympic 100  metres final in Seoul "won" by Ben Johnson, think of the widespread busts in Jamaican track and the East German state doping programme, with its echoes of Russian activities now. Think of Carl Lewis failing three tests. This is a world-wide problem.

These latest allegations make FIFA look not so bad. And that’s quite an achievement.