11 Jul Is the sport riddled with cheats and fraudsters?

Article by Christian von Eitzen

By now, it is a well known fact that Lord Sebastian Coe, who took over Lamine Diack’s job as IAAF president last year, is doing everything in his power to catch and ban athletes who are or have in the past been involved with any kind of doping. Whilst, at first he seemed reluctant to do anything about it, he soon enough took the drastic measure of banning Russia from taking part or hosting any international events for the foreseeable future, until they could prove that their anti-doping system was up the standards the IAAF expect. Soon after, new host cities were announced for the World Race Walking Team Championships and the World Junior Championships, which prior to Russia’s suspension were to be held in Cheboksary and Kazan retrospectively. The European Championships in Amsterdam saw no Russian athlete competing after having finished fourth in the medal table only 2 years ago in Zurich, having won 3 gold, 6 silver and 13 bronze medals.

Despite Russia naming an olympic squad of 68 athletes, they will only have one athlete competing; Darya Klishina, who lives and trains abroad, will compete in the women’s long jump. It is noteworthy that merely two Russian athletes (Darya Klishina and Yuliya Stepanova) were granted “exceptional eligibility” for the Olympic Games before qualification, whilst 136 other Russian athletes were turned away. The Russian Olympic Committee is now awaiting a decision, which is to be made by the 21st of July, by the Court of Arbitration for Sport whether their suspension will be abolished before the Olympic Games in Rio. If successful, all 68 Russian athletes will be granted to compete and allowed to don their red white a blue vests.

Similarly, Kenya was speculated to receive a ban from IAAF’s president Lord Coe from major international events, which would have included the Rio Olympics. They have so far escaped a ban, whilst they remain on a ‘monitoring list’. However, a recent investigation led by the German television channel ARD and the Sunday Times show how easy it is to purchase performance enhancing drugs such as EPO, as well as displaying the frequency of their use. Although these proceedings occur in Kenya, European athletes, who supposedly go out there to gain a legal advantage of altitude training over other athletes, are also involved. The video shows a doctor, who goes by the name of Joseph Mwangi, bragging about the roughly 50 athletes he has treated with EPO. The doctor, who is based in the Kenyan highlands of Eldoret, tells the journalist, who poses as an athlete, that amongst the 50 athletes he has treated, three of them were British. The doctor gives a name, which, in the video is shrilled out with a noise usually known to be used on the Jeremy Kyle show to overtone swearing. It is therefore, very likely, that the names of these three Brits, as well as the roughly 47 other athletes, will be exposed incredibly soon.

The sport is facing though times ahead, as it seems that the sport is riddled with cheats and fraudsters. It remains unlikely that all these athletes will be caught and banned before the Olympic Games in Rio, which means that we will most definitely see medals presented to cheating athletes. We must remember that it is important not to point fingers at people who have not been proven to have taken any drugs although they are speculated to have been surrounded by them, as everyone is and should be innocent until proven guilty. We must remain hopeful that the WADA working in cooperation with the IAAF will gain the upper hand and catch all cheating athletes who are taking prohibited performance enhancing drugs.