Updated April 14, 2016
These past few weeks just have not been good for WADA. After the IAAF debacles in November and January, WADA seemed poised to be taking over the global anti-doping business. That just does not seem like the trend anymore.
So, my question, perhaps more focused: What the hell is WADA doing? Now, after the recent revelations on Meldonium and the huge, gaping hole that WADA has opened in their investigative procedures, are we back at square one?
London stadium, July 2015, photo by Larry Eder
There were many conversations, over the years, between the late James Dunaway, editor of American Track & Field from 2003-2014, regarding WADA, USADA and doping controls.
Our big concerns were that a) protocals were not peer reviewed, b) testing was not done using scientifically accepted methods, c) and their funding was ludicrous.
Most of the major successes had by WADA and USADA, from Marion Jones to Lance Armstrong, were not from successful doping tests, but from perjury charges and other types of investigations.
That Meldonium was around for a decade before WADA did anything offiical still confounds me. The well respected Dr. Don Catlin, one of the most respected people in anti-doping channels, does not believe that Melodonium is even performance enhancing.
Don Caitlin is probably, the most respected person in the doping research business. He tells it like it is. When Caitlin and the Finnish Anti-Doping group suggests, no, tells us that they can find no performance enhancing benefits for Meldonium, then, well, we have a problem.
WADA has not had to issue a press release, fascinatingly first sent out by RUSADA, on meldonium. WADA, has, been caught with its proverbial scientific method pants down. How did this happen? The social media fall out alone is one thing, but think, how many recent athletes will now see their positive tests go bye-bye. This will make WADA a laughingstock.
It will also put more pressure on IAAF to welcome Russia into the land of the living, well, in terms of athletics. Between UKA anti doping knowing about an anti-aging doctor who administers to 150 plus British athletes, and WADA’s absolute screw up on Meldonium, it has not been a good week for anti-doping.
The lawsuits are coming, my friends. Any athlete who can will be lining up to sue the folks at WADA for this snafu. Remember, they are never going to get kudos for catching the bad guys unless the catch sticks, and this one shows that WADA needs to get its proverbial ducks in order. Meldonium is going to become the focus for a lot of jokes on late night TV soon.
What is going on?
With countries like Kenya, Ethiopia, Ukraine, Russia, Belarus, among others, not testing worth a damn, what is WADA doing? Why do we find out so late in the game?
The IOC really has to get doping testing under control. The real problem with not knowing anything definative is that the problem is either larger or smaller than we think.
The original survey was asked around 1977, in Playboy magazine. At the time, a group of Olympic athletes were asked, if they could take a drug, undetectable, that would guarantee them an Olympic medal, but death in five years, would they take it. Over 2/3 said yes.
The problem is not doping, it is our standards of success and ethics in this modern world. It is the modern version of Adam and Eve in Paradise. It is the apple on the Tree of Knowledge of good and evil!
Way back in 1994, a prominent coach grabbed me in Knoxville at the US Champs. ” I sure hope Ben Johnson breaks the world record again.” noted the coach. I looked at the guy with some incredulousness. “What do you mean?”
“Look, Ben Johnson is tested tougher than anyone, after his 1988 positive. If he sets a record again, it means that a clean athlete can set the 100 meter record. Everyone thinks now that drugs make the athlete. They do not. You can not make a work horse into a race horse!”
It took me time to understand that. But, here is the beef: Drugs help tiny, tiny amounts, which is the difference between first place and sixth place, making money and making nothing.
Doping is a business decision. If you cheat, your chance of being caught is small, so that, for some, doping is just a business expense.
WADA needs three times the funding, special investigative units, and out of season testing focus. Testing at a World Champs is silly. If you get caught at a world champs, you are plain stupid.
WADA needs to figure out what enhancing means. Is a good healthy diet enhancing your performances? Sure they are!
But the use of drugs that take care of sick people to help healthy people do freaking performances just bastardizes our sport and the sporting experience.
I want WADA and USADA to succeed. Please guys, start being careful and more precise in your work. We need you to succeed.
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