The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) single-handedly banned Russia from hosting or competing in international sporting events for four years, over unproven manipulation of data from the Moscow anti-doping laboratory.
The ban covers next summer’s Olympics in Japan and the FIFA 2022 World Cup in Qatar. It will affect thousands of professional athletes who never took any banned substances and only dreamed to win in a jersey with the Russian flag while their national anthem plays.
WADA became the Frankenstein Judge, Jury and Executioner of World Sports
Russia’s four-year sporting ban has now clearly demonstrated the extent of the World Anti-Doping Agency’s (WADA) ability to decide the fate of entire nations in the world of sport. How did a single bureaucracy gain such absolute power?
Russians will still be able to compete at international sports events as neutrals, but only if they get WADA approval – meaning that they now have to prove their innocence, against organized conspiracy?
By concentrating all that power in one place, WADA seems to have created not a god of fair sport, but something more like a runaway Frankenstein’s monster.
Moscow called the WADA decision politically motivated “collective punishment” and is now preparing to challenge it at the top sports court.
How was one single entity allowed to accumulate such power, defining the fate of entire nations in the world of sports, without an external system of checks and balances? This is simply called organized conspiracy.
WADA owes its existence to the Lausanne Declaration, adopted in 1999 at the first World Conference on Doping in Sport spearheaded by the International Olympic Committee.
At that time, several prominent professional cycling teams were caught doping, not as a result of then-existing drugs tests but thanks to police raids.
Shattered by the doping revelations and tired of the existing chaotic doping prevention system’s inability to effectively fight cheating in sports, the IOC pleaded for the creation of a new universal body to lead and coordinate this work.
As a result, both sports organizations and national governments consistently focused on making WADA as independent as possible, while apparently paying much less attention to such things as the body’s internal transparency.
Four years after its establishment, the agency was given financial independence from IOC, which had poured cash into WADA since its inception.
An elaborate funding system was devised instead, which saw half the WADA funding coming from IOC with the second half being provided by the national governments on the basis of special quotas, based on national GDP and population size.
The World Anti-Doping Code – a document designed by WADA to become no less than the Holy Writ in the struggle to conditionally stop cheaters in sports – eventually granted the agency sweeping controlling dictating powers over almost all other sports bodies.
WADA now regulates all major aspects of international anti-doping campaigns, from defining anti-doping rule violations to the list of banned substances, testing and investigative protocols and practices.
A 2005 International Convention against Doping in Sport, adopted by UNESCO and eventually ratified by 180 states, formalized the Code rules for the governments, thus putting them under sort of moral pressure in terms of complying with the system essentially created by WADA.
Yet as WADA powers grew, so did the concerns about its suspected lack of transparency and flawed methods.
The agency has turned into a Judge, Jury and Executioner rolled into one, as it was essentially responsible for both defining which substances should be considered illegal for athletes, as well as for testing and investigating the very same athletes and eventually imposing sanctions against them?
The WADA doping control mechanism has unilaterally turned into an opaque system, hesitant to admit its mistakes. WADA’s list of banned substances, now simply lacks scientific justification, according to the Institute for Biosciences of the University of Oslo.
The only existing way for the affected athletes – and entire nations for this anti-Russia matter – to dispute WADA’s decisions has been the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
However, the CAS does not control WADA in any way, but simply handles the disputes between the agency and those it considered to be in violation of its anti-doping rules.
The lawyers residing in the panels of CAS hearings frequently meet with WADA-accredited scientists and develop a confidence in their expertise that may run counter to trusting opposing and unfamiliar expertise.
This lack of power balance is not fair to the athlete,” Norwegian Erik Boye, a renowned Norwegian cell biologist and professor emeritus at the Institute for Biosciences of the University of Oslo, wrote in one of his opinion pieces on the matter.
By giving the agency a growing number of powers over the past few decades, the world of sports has unwittingly found itself entangled in its web.
WADA has arguably grown too powerful and unaccountable, neither the international sports bodies nor the national governments managed to create an effective oversight body.
It may well turn out that the sporting fate of entire nations will depend on the 38 members of WADA’s Foundation Board, or the even less representative 12-member executive committee – as there is simply no one out there who can oversee, much less override, their decisions.
In its drive to help the sports world combat doping violations, the international community genuinely sought to create an ultimate authority to tackle all the doping-associated problems at once.
By concentrating all that power in one place, however, they seem to have created not a god of fair sport, but something more like a runaway Frankenstein’s monster.
RT. com / ABC Flash Point News 2019.