Russian Doping Allegations
I can't let this week go by without mentioning Russia, and Athletics and drugs. I knew on Monday morning that there was going to be an announcement at 2pm By mid morning I had fielded many calls and emails asking if I would be available for interview. It is hard to say yes when you have no idea what the report is going to say. It is a big report, and I still haven't gone all the way through it.
Doping on this size and scale is shocking, not just the number of athletes involved but the way it was done. Centralised doping existed in the 1980's but over time it moved to individual coaching groups and was secretive. It also became highly sophisticated. You only have to look at the ability of Lance Armstrong and other cyclists to become adept at the methods of taking the right amount not to get caught to see how specialised it is. I have a strong view on athletes who take performance enhancing drugs. I don't believe that they should be in the sport. But athletes rarely do it on their own. You need a highly specialised knowledge of the drugs, but also how to train when you are on them. If I had my way then I would also remove any coaches, associated personal and team managers who were involved.
In the case of the Russian athletes I do have some very small degree of sympathy for them and I think there needs to be further investigation in to their motivations. With the numbers we are talking about it is hard to assume that is was all their free choice. We will wait and see what else comes out and who knew what.
We also have to remember that the World Anti Doping Agency were only asked to look at Russia. They should be given a free hand and their intelligent testing methods to look at other countries. I am a bit tired of seeing this happen and perhaps there is a growing case for excluding countries rather than just athletes and coaches
Just last week the IAAF offices were raised by French police, and from an ex athlete point of view there is part of me that is pleased. It is high time the weight of the law came in behind what has happened. This is not a case of a partial restructure of the International Federation and hope that it works out OK. The athletes who lost medals deserve better. And the public who pay to watch and support their athlete of choice deserve better. All those people who volunteer in athletics clubs week in and week out deserve better