Doping is the use of banned performance-enhancing drugs by athletes or soccer competitors. Some of these drugs include anabolic steroids, strychnine, stanozolol, testosterone, furazabol, cocaine, amphetamine,Modafinil and ephedrine. The use of any of these drugs by athletes or footballers to enhance their performance is considered unethical and therefore prohi-bited by all sports organisations, including the International Olympic Committee (IOC). It is on this ground that the IOC wrote to inform Team Nigeria 2016, through the Nigeria Olympic Committee (NOC), that it had upgraded the country’s bronze medal won in the women’s 4×100-metre relay at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing to silver. The IOC stripped Russia of the gold medal the country won in the women’s 4×100-metres relay after an alleged widespread doping scandal wreaked havoc for the Russian athletes.
Doping has been part and parcel of the Olympic Games. Tyson Gay, at 31, is the fastest American Sprinter in history but tested positive for a banned substance. The American Governing body for track and field (USATF) punished him with a two-year ban from competition and his sponsorship deals were of course terminated. The 1988 Seoul Olympic confronted the world with Canadian Ben. Johnson’s victory in the 100m race in 9.79 seconds. He subsequently failed the drug test when stanozolol was found in his urine. . Johnson was immediately stripped of his title and Carl Lewis who had run 9.92 seconds was therefore recognized as the new record holder. But 15 years later. Wade Exum, the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) director of Drug Control Administration from 1991 to 2000, revealed that some 100 American athletes who failed drug tests and should have been prevented from competing in the Olympics were nevertheless cleared to compete. Among those athletes was Carl Lewis. The 2016 Rio Olympics reportedly hosted at least 120 athletes who were previously suspended for doping. At least 63 of the 205 countries in that Olympics had such athletes. The United States had the second highest number with seven after Ukraine which had eight. One of the most prominent Americans in this group was the sprinter, Justin Gatlin, the 2016 Silver medalist in the 100 metres. He has been twice suspended for doping, once for four years. The anti-doping effort at Rio was reportedly branded the “worst” in the games history on the ground that the process of blood and urine sample collection was compromised due to staff shortages. With barely half the volunteers recruited to help run the event reporting for duty, and several doping control officers drafted in from overseas walking out after being pushed to breaking point trying to fill the void, it was a field day for unclean athletes. Doping has from time been part of international sports. This is why many are appalled at the continuing targeting of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) over the lifting of the three-year suspension on the Russian Anti-Doping Agency in September last year over state-sponsored doping of its athletes. Travis Tygart, chief executive of U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA), accused WADA of being “played” by the Russians” and branded the decision “a total joke” after it confirmed it had not retrieved or received crucial doping data from Moscow laboratory by its December 31 deadline.
International athletes told WADA that public confidence in the organisation is at an all-time low with the backing of 17 national anti-doping agencies who promised to stand “shoulder to shoulder” with the athletes to “transform WADA so that it respects your rights and makes decisions in the interests of clean sport. The British gold medal-winning cyclist, Callum Skinner, reportedly backed a petition started by the Paralympian powerlifter, Al Jawad, saying athletes were appalled by WADA’s decision to readmit the Russian anti-doping body and criticising WADA’s governance structure as “not fit for purpose”.
Tygart also called or RUSADA to be immediately suspended again which would stop Russia hosting major events and also get the country’s athletes to face other possible sanctions. A statement by the UK anti-doping agency’s athlete commission, which joined USADA in calling for Russia to again be declared non-compliant, said the Russian government had clearly not fulfilled its promise and needs to prove unequivocally that they learned from the biggest doping scandal under WADA’S watch, and that they will from this date forward be committed to a drug-free transparent regime across international sport, otherwise the WADA compliance review committee must now immediately declare RUSADA non-compliant.
Jonathan Taylor, chairman of WADA’s compliance review committee said he understood the frustration of those who felt Russia didn’t show enough contrition and “say there should have been a greater meaculpa. But we do have explicit acknowledgment from the Russians”.
With the heat on WADA, observers are alarmed that the coming conference in London on par-tnership for clean competition from April 16-18 this year would be used by USADA to deploy misinterpreted facts on the Russian doping scandal to run down WADA and the IOC and misinform the world about the true goals of the organisations. The tension between athletes and sport officials, especially those connected to the IOC which had pushed Russia’s reinstatement, has been growing for some time. This tension is being exploited by USADA to promote the interests of America’s sports pharmaceuticals. All efforts by USADA seem now to be aimed at redistribution of powers in the fight against doping and illicit drugs in sport at the global level in favour of the agency and to the competitive advantage of American athletes.
Mark Adams, chief spokesman of the IOC, said in a statement that the athletes on its commission, who are elected by their peers, were the ones that best represent the WADA athlete commission. The dirty politics over doping in international sports should force African countries to stand against the possible strengthening of the roleof USADA in sports. Observers of world sports believe that all sports officials, in the light of the ongoing finger-pointing on doping by international athletes, should bo-cott the London conference due to the bias of the organisers and their parochial goals.
It is clear USADA plans to turn a conference on fair, honest sport into a battlefield for the political and economic interests of the United States as against African principles and traditions. The World Anti-doping Agency should stand firm against politically-tainted criticism and continue to contribute to the advancement of clean sport through scientific research and education and outreach initiatives focused on awareness and prevention.
Kristy Coventry, a former swimmer, who is also the chairwoman of the IOC’.s Athletes commission, said, “I believe our mandate is to protect all clean athletes, and I believe there are clean Russian athletes”.
– Sam Gyer wrote in from Abuja.
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