POSTED: November 23rd 2016

JOHN GOODBODY: Kasper's cynical comments on drugs are outrageous

Gian-Franco Kasper, the President of the International Ski Federation (FIS) and also a member of the IOC Executive Board © Getty Images
Gian-Franco Kasper, the President of the International Ski Federation (FIS) and also a member of the IOC Executive Board © Getty Images

THE JOHN GOODBODY COLUMN / An authoritative and exclusive series from Sports Features Communications

(SFC) The recent tsunami of positives following the retesting of samples from the 2008 and 2012 Olympics has dealt yet another blow to the credibility of international sport. A total of more than 100 competitors from those two Summer Games have now been found guilty across a variety of disciplines but particularly, it hurts me to record given my obsession with the sport, in weightlifting, where the results in Beijing and London have had to be completely rewritten.

A very high percentage of the adverse findings came from countries that were formerly part of the Soviet Union, Russia (no surprise there) and Kazakhstan, being particularly notable. With the next part of the investigation by Professor Richard McLaren on behalf of the World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada) into malpractice in Russia being announced in London on December 9, the issue is scarcely likely to go away. In fact, it will get worse, certainly in the immediate future.

What is needed at this time is some real moral leadership. Instead, what we are seeing is an unseemly struggle between the International Olympic Committee (IOC), the Wada and the international federations with the national anti-doping organisations scarcely knowing which way to turn.

It must always be remembered how the Wada was set up in Lausanne 1999 and the Code ratified in Copenhagen in 2003 (when I was asked to give a speech in its support). Who were the prime movers in establishing the Wada? The IOC.

It is all very well for Dr. Thomas Bach, the present IOC President, to say that he doesn't think that the Wada should not, in effect, be the prosecutors, jury and judge on doping matters because there is an evident conflict of interest. However, one of the reasons that the Wada was set up in the first place, with the support, both ethical and financial, of many national governments was because the IOC has always protested, with some justification, that it only has responsibility for the Games, which take place every two years.

If it is not going to be the Wada, which is largely made up of representatives from the IOC and national governments, then are we going to have yet another international organisation to hand out suspensions and regulate non-compliance by countries? As Canada's Beckie Scott, a former cross-country skier, stated in a Wada media statement after the organisation's Foundation Board meeting in Glasgow last week-end :"If we all agree that the Wada should be independent and empowered as the regular of doping in sport, then how could we not agree to equip the Wada with the tools it needs to do its job fully..."

At its meeting, the Wada came up with a number of graded sanctions for countries, who are not compliant, currently including Russia, Spain and Brazil. Being non-compliant should, at its most serious level, mean that they cannot stage major international events but at the moment several winter sports events, such as the World Cup, are scheduled to be held in Russia.

President Gian-Franco Kasper, the President of the International Ski Federation (FIS) and also a member of the IOC Executive Board told Rebecca Ruiz of The New York Times that sanctioning "entire countries is purely political and I do not agree with this. The Wada should not be a body which gives sanctions."

He then went on (according to the newspaper) to say: "We need to stop pretending sport is clean. It's a noble principle. It's entertainment. It's drama."

If he actually said those words, the sooner he resigns the better. He should be fighting for clean sport, all the time and with all his might, and not uttering cynical sentences like that.

** JOHN GOODBODY will cover the 2016 Olympics for The Sunday Times, his 13th successive Summer Games and is the author of the audio book A History of the Olympics, read by Barry Davies, the BBC commentator. He was Sports News Correspondent of The Times 1986-2007, for whom he received journalistic awards in all three decades on the paper, including Sports Reporter of The Year in 2001.  

****The views expressed are the author's own and do not necessarily represent the views of Sports Features Communications.

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