The wright View | A question of integrity
Corruption in sport is not new. Cheating by athletes performing in the early Olympic Games has been well documented by historians.
What is new, however, is the plethora of information gathered about corruption involving those who are supposed to be the ones 'policing' the sport: the administrators.
Whistle-blower-led revelations at FIFA, WADA and the IAAF have allowed fans and aficionados of sport to understand the power of money, which systematically defeats all the educational materials authored by some of these same officials of FIFA, WADA and the IAAF.
As have been stated elsewhere, the 'new' FIFA seems destined to continue the 'same old, same old' as those executives employed to reform the organisation were forced to resign when uncomfortable questions were asked about appointments and salaries.
In track and field, the ghastly spectre of doping (cheating) threatens to trivialise the results of athletic achievements of the winners in Rio. The question: 'Is he/she clean?' will dominate the two weeks of the track and field aspect of the Olympics.
We already know about the state-sponsored doping of multiple sports in Russia, with the confessions/revelations of administrators, who divulged in graphic detail the way in which dopers/cheaters were allowed to compete, win and escape detection by the drug testers.
Executives at WADA and the IAAF have been fingered and charged, as well as those in charge of the very laboratories where the samples were sent for evaluation. But when you think that things could not get worse, here comes the news that retesting of samples from the 2008 Olympics have resulted in 31 positive results from 12 sports.
Thomas Bach, the head of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), has stated most unequivocally that those identified will be banned from the Rio Olympics.
We also know that the relevant authorities in the member countries have been notified as to the identity of the athletes. Therefore, there are a lot of fans and citizens of those countries, as yet unnamed, who are literally waiting to exhale.
Rumours, as yet unsubstantiated, have begun to fly left, right and centre.
The question locally is: What if a Jamaican is named?
Jamaicans are well aware of the pressures brought on our
athletes because of their dominance of sprinting at previous Olympics and World Championships. We are also well aware that some of our stars/icons of track and field have returned adverse analytical findings for banned substances. Most have been banned; some have been exonerated after the relevant investigations.
What has been constant, however, is how the country as a whole has defended and excused those whose 'B' samples have confirmed the adverse analytical findings, to the extent where those Jamaicans involved in the process have been accused of 'spiking' the samples, as well as other nefarious activities designed to 'set up' the athlete.
A positive result from the 2008 Olympics is an entirely different matter. Not only will the named athlete be banned from the Rio Olympics, but the results and/or records garnered at those 2008 Games would be expunged from the records and medals returned.
This is serious.
The question of the integrity of the process would quickly be brought into focus.
Question 1: Can they retest samples from 2008?
The laws of the IAAF permit it.
Previously, samples were kept for eight years, but recently this time frame has been extended to 10 years.
Question 2: Can you find an athlete positive after previously declaring him/her negative?
All athletes have supported the retesting of samples as the testers have improved their detection methods based on science, but also from information garnered through whistleblowers, who long for a level playing field.
Question 3: Can the laboratory where the samples are stored be trusted in the light of a previous episode where a WADA directive NOT to discard samples were ignored.
Major changes at the top have been instituted and athletes named in the 31 can request further testing.
So we wait. Most of us know that our athletes are clean.
However, a history of previous positive results affecting our stars leaves some of us very nervous.