Looks like WADA is missing more than a few teeth. A report from the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has claimed that almost half of the planned doping tests at this summer’s Rio Olympics were aborted on some days because athletes couldn’t be found.
International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach arrives at the opening of an Olympic Summit on reforming the anti-doping system on October 8, 2016 in Lausanne.After a Russian doping scandal plunged the Olympic movement into one of its worst crises, top figures in world sport meet in a bid to overhaul global drug testing. / AFP / FABRICE COFFRINI (Photo credit should read FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP/Getty Images)
The WADA Independent Observers 55-page report accused the Rio 2016 anti-doping department of “a lack of coordination,” which in turn placed a massive strain on drug testing at competition venues and the Athletes Village.
It turns out that many Olympic officials – politely designated as ‘chaperones’ – were often provided with little to no whereabouts information for athletes targeted for out-of-competition testing in the Athletes Village. The report said that WADA officials had to rely on asking team officials and/or athletes from the same team where the athletes they were looking for were located. That is a nonsensical set of circumstances for a global sports event.
By having to provide names to officials and teammates of the athletes being sought, chaperones, Olympic officials and WADA representatives had to completely compromise the ‘no notice’ nature of random drug testing. Such a situation pulled many teeth from WADA’s snout as it clearly presented many opportunities for athletes, who may have been cheating at Rio, to evade testing, provide false samples, and garner time to flush out their systems.
The report also highlighted that if initial attempts to find an athlete in his or her room were unsuccessful, chaperones often lacked the training and/or the confidence to follow up with further enquiries and effort to find the athlete in other locations in the Village. Instead of having a 100% success rate at random drug testing, some days there were up to 50% of planned targets aborted because officials were poorly trained. How could such an international event have such poorly trained officials?
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Ultimately, many athletes targeted for testing in the Athletes Village simply could not be found. WADA attributes this failing to a lack of support and unsatisfactory working conditions for chaperones, which led to many not turning up to work, or not being committed to enforcing testing, stifling cheating, and insuring fairness.
Why not randomly test at the sports venues at each event 24 hours before and then 12 hours before, minutes prior to an athlete beginning a race, jump, etc. and just after they compete?
It was also revealed that no out-of-competition testing was carried out in football, which was quite an opportunity for athletes’ coaches to administer illegal substances a swift recovery between matches. Surprisingly, high-risk sports like weightlifting had little or no in-competition blood testing. That’s a poor failing of independent scrutiny. A sport marred with multiple occurrences of using illegal substances, of having many ingenious improvements in stealthy and evasive doping, a spearhead and pioneering area for steroid users, wasn’t meticulously monitored and vetted is an appalling lack of drug-testing standards.
The report also cited that prior to the Games over 4,000 athletes scheduled to compete in Brazil had no drug-testing record during 2016. A noticeable WADA failing. A failing WADA attribute to staffing issues and resource constraints. Such logistical issues may have jeopardized the safeguarding of the rights of clean athletes.
WADA itself should have fully invested in monitoring the Rio Olympics considering that just a month prior to the Games WADA suspended Rio’s anti-doping laboratory for failing to meet international standards.
Of course WADA wouldn’t put the onus of duty on themselves. WADA should have criticized the International Olympic Committee (IOC) for poor judgement on picking Brazil, a struggling country with sluggish infrastructural development in its second city Rio, for an expensive money racket, and logistically challenging event, like the Olympics. Of course, WADA wouldn’t have to courage to do that.
There was also no point in WADA kicking up a storm and targeting Russia prior to the Rio Olympics, and then participating in a sloppy operation in Rio that failed to enforce strict anti-doping rules, equally, for all nations. That scenario, of a questionable prejudice against Russia, at the expense of neutrality for vetting and ability to scrutinize national teams’ athletic standards at the Olympics, equates to an ironic failing and mistake by WADA.
Thus WADA would have you believe the Rio Olympics, and so Brazil, are to blame for such a damning failing of testing and transparency. Rio de Janerio also didn’t provide adequate transport arrangements and failed to supply suitable computing facilities. Again, WADA should have taken a leading role, but now is off-loading the blame onto Brazil yet they would have had their concerns about hosting the Olympics in Rio prior to the Games, and should have intervened.
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However, Dr Richard Budgett, the IOC’s medical and scientific director, believes “The IO [Independent Observers] report shows that it was a successful Olympic Games with a successful anti-doping program,” according to the IOC website, citing Dr Budgett. Of course the IOC would say it. The IOC doesn’t like anybody to contest the value of the Olympics, the choices of the IOC, and the fundamental structure of the IOC itself. That is sacrosanct. Its governance must not be criticized.
And yet we should further question the viability of a politicized international competition that not only comes under scrutiny for its value, but now also its ability to provide a robust deterrence to cheating. As WADA was embroiled in the Russian doping scandal, which WADA hounded and villanized, where is all the critique of the many countries that failed to meet the requirements and standards needed to ensure as fair and clean an Olympics as possible?
We see WADA blaming Brazil when it should be blaming itself for being used as a politicized pawn yet failing to actually oversee a clean Olympics, which steals from the authenticity and fairness of the Games.
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