What is true motive of WADA?

Dear Editor

BECAUSE of the Coronavirus pandemic, the world’s sports stopped. The efforts of all states today are guided by one goal: to cope with the disease and to preserve the health of their citizens. No anti-doping activity is being carried out for objective reasons, but WADA officials continue to report even at this point on successes in the fight against Russian doping. And that leads to suspicion. Why are they doing this at such a difficult time for the world, including sports?

One cannot but recognise the obvious: Russia has allowed violations of anti—doping legislation, serious and repeated. What happened happened, it is stupid to deny. However, it pleaded guilty long ago and was punished by performing at the 2018 Olympics in South Korea as athletes from Russia went without the anthem and flag.

But WADA is not calming down. This agency continues to drag Russian sports into the dirt. One inadvertently thinks about the true aims pursued by WADA towards the country, especially since it does not seem to be a principled supporter of harsh punitive measures (as in the case of Russia) when it comes to other violations.

In January 2020, German television channel ARD released a film—investigation of well-known journalist Hayo Zeppelt on corruption in the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF). The film contained shocking details of the long reign of IWF president Tamash Ayan like financial abuse, gross violations of anti-doping rules and concealment of these violations. The authors of the film also have not bypassed long-standing illegal activities of the Hungarian National Anti-doping Organization. It has corruptly received service orders for major international competitions and has been directly involved in the commission and concealment of anti-doping violations during tournaments.

Was WADA turned on afterwards? Absolutely not! No investigation of its own, as was done five years ago with regard to Russia, has been undertaken by the WADA. The investigation into the facts ofZeppelt’s film was initiated…by the

IWF itself and at its expense. It is almost the same as if criminal suspects were allowed to investigate themselves at their own expense.

Here’s another case of those: In February 2019, Austrian skier Johannes Durr confessed of doping for many years with the help of German doctor Martin Schmidt. Schmidt was found to have set up an underground clinic in the German city of Erfurt and to have facilitated anti-doping violations in dozens of elite athletes from different countries. WADA didn’t lift a finger to join the investigation.

In June 2019, the BBC revealed numerous cases of anti-doping violations by one of the world’s most famous track and field coaches, Alberto Salazar. Several informants from the athletes who were trained in his group were interviewed. Among other athletes, Salazar coached the famous British runner four-time Olympic champion Mo Farah. In October 2019, Salazar himself, along with fellow Dr Jeffrey Brown, were disqualified for four years for doping offences, including the distribution of banned substances and the use of prohibited methods. At the same time, none of the athletes engaged in Salazar’s work aroused the interest of the WADA. Who was the one with the miracle pills, huh?

The World Anti-doping Agency also did not attempt to initiate an investigation against the British Athletics Federation, despite repeated statements in the English press alleging widespread abuse of banned substances by British athletes.

This different reaction to Russia and the rest of the world from WADA can only raise doubts about the agency’s impartiality.

It is well-known what WADA is. It is not by chance that this office is prevented from firing cannon at the North American leagues, which are the pinnacle of professional sport. NFL, NBA, NHL, MLB do not recognise the competence of WADA and adopt anti-doping regulations that are completely contrary to the World Anti-doping Code. In these leagues, the list of prohibited substances is as short as possible, even the maximum penalties for the use of anabolic steroids, reduced testing periods, and so on. However, it does not occur to

anyone to deprive athletes from these leagues of the right to participate in the Olympics.

On this occasion the typical incident with the star of the Swedish national team and the NHL club Washington Capital, Niklas Backstrom is recalled, which took place at the 2014 Sochi Games. On the eve of the final with Canada, the leader of the Swedes was disqualified. According to Backstrom, the reason for the positive doping test result, which caused him to miss the final match of the tournament, was allegedly caused his allergy medicine. NHL vice president Bill Daly has stated that the league has no intention of suspending the forward,  despite the fact that an illegal drug was found in his blood in Sochi.

Common sense in the decisions of WADA is diminishing every year, but partisanship is increasing. Serious people and politicians understand that, of course. It is not by chance that the same USADA has neither the authority nor the means to control sports organisations in its own country. But at the same time it does support the US Congress’ adoption of the Rodchenkov Act to enable it to prosecute athletes from other countries around the world. What’s that but politics?

Big sports have been stopped today because of the coronavirus. All athletes have suffered losses, both financial and moral. For some, missing the season and cancelling major tournaments will be a real tragedy, as the chance to compete at the Games or the World Cup may never be presented again. And it may happen that for many of the star athletes, the next Olympics will be the only one in their careers because of WADA’s punitive actions.

Isn’t it a reason in this fortress time to announce a general doping amnesty and bury the hatchet so that when the quarantine is over, a new life can begin? But nothing like this is happening. Why? Apparently, the true goals of WADA extend far beyond sports arenas.

Patrao Nehoya