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Doping, Coe, Bubka and Beijing 2015


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At a time when world athletics are heading for (or maybe are already right in the middle of it) a doping crisis comparable to world cycling's crisis after the Fuentes revelations in 2006, Beijing is hosting the IAAF World Championships - and the election of the new IAAF president.

Maybe we can collect our thoughts and new developments regarding these three topics (which are actually closely linked) in this thread.

Here are my thoughts for now: Of course I always knew that athletics, one of the sports I actually cherish a lot, might be much more affected and infected by doping than the occasional revelation of a doping cheat at a major athletics event insinuated. So the revelations made by ARD and the Sunday Times that a third of all middle and long distance medal winners at the Olympics and World Championships between 2001 and 2012 might have been doped is sadly no surprise for me. In fact, it might only be the tip of the iceberg.

So far, so bad. But what makes it even worse is the reaction by the IAAF officials, and most of all, by the man who is most probably set to become the new chief honcho tomorrow. Just read what Sebastian Coe said, in case you missed it:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/othersports/athletics/11783081/Athletics-drugs-scandal-IAAF-slams-sensationalist-and-confusing-allegations.html

If this is really what Coe is convinced of, than he is an utter pr#ck and on the same level as scumb#g Blatter. And it's bitter to say that about a man who organised marvellous Olympic and Paralympic Games in London and (during that time, that is) came across actually respectable and sometimes even likeable.

And then it's needless to say that all this casts a heavy shadow of doubt on these World Championships - but probably that is necessary in order to change something. Although one has to doubt whether the IAAF ever wants to change anything.

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A third? I'd be shocked if it were that low. Put me down for "almost everybody".

I have no idea if the governing bodies aided the drug users. But I do know they put up the illusion that they had effective testing in place, when they obviously didn't. The only people who get caught are those that are stupid or get sabatoged. Marion Jones passed hundreds of drug tests.

Philosophical quesion: If everybody is cheating, is it still cheating?

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But that "total bastard" does clearly not show any signs that he draws the right conclusions from the doping revelations. Instead he denies that IAAF is failing big time with its so-called "anti-doping measures". Especially at a time when a doping cheat like Justin Gatlin is able to take part in international competition again - and runs suspiciously good times for a man of his age. Just like zekekelso said, of course it must be a lot more than only a third of all middle and long distance medal winners. But we all know from the past anyway that sprinting and also the other track and field disciplines have their doping past (and presence). I wouldn't agree, however, that all athletes are doped. Discus world champion Robert Harting, for example, and several other German athletes are currently taking a strong stance against doping and IAAF's policies publicly. They also want to publicise their own blood test results. It would be very cynical if they themselves cheated, too.

However, the "total bastard" has won, as expected:

Athletics: Sebastian Coe elected IAAF president

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I can see both sides here.

Coe has stood on a platform which wants to set up a new independent anti doping body for athletics. The problem with some of the reporting around the test results was the implication that the results could only come from doping. It lacked nuance. That said, his statement in reaction was playing to the gallery. There needs to be less of that now he's got the job he wanted.

If he implements what he's promised then that's good. If he pays lip service to it then he won't prove a successful president. I do take issue with a glib comparison between Blatter, a man who's overseen two decades of corruption, and a man the first day in his job however.

Edited by Rob.
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Rob, you forget that Coe has been IAAF vice president already for eight years. So he has been part of the IAAF system for a considerable period already, of that very system he now so self-righteously defended. And it doesn't matter to me whether someone has been financially or "only" morally corrupt, whether he has been corrupt for 20 years or only for 8 - corruption is corruption. In this case, Coe seems at least morally corrupt to me.

And he was not harsh about "some media reports" but about the very reporters by ARD and the Sunday Times who made those revelations. And those reporters never said that the results could only come from doping but that there's a high probability that they come from doping. The experts they consulted said that in the case of the most extreme blood test results on that IAAF list, chances are extremely slim that they can be caused by anything else than illegal medication.

So I stand by my opinion - if Coe's statement about the ARD/Sunday Times revelations are representative for his general mindset on his federation's responsibility in the fight against doping, then he is nothing better than Sepp Blatter.

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Coe gave an interview with ARD, the very broadcaster which made those doping revelations, a short while ago in Beijing. He was surprisingly polite and even said that he will defend till his death the media's right to do investigative reports. He also admitted that doping in athletics needs to be revealed. But he was also staunch in saying that the IAAF and he himself have done a lot during the past decades against doping in sport (including, for example, the first freezing of blood samples in 2005 in order to be able to test them for doping also at a later stage) and that he claims that the reporters also look on that side of IAAF. And he also became quite snappy when the interviewer wanted to show a teaser video for the men's 100 metres final tonight in Beijing. He said something like, "I'm very glad that you start to look at the athletes and the sporting action again and not only at doping". Well, Mr. Coe, that's exactly the reason why ARD is broadcasting live from Beijing - not in order to simply report only on doping, but mainly in order to report about the sporting action and keeping a critical eye on it at the same time.

So it felt quite a bit like professional, demonstratively statesman-like behaviour in front of the camera while he is actually still mad at ARD for their revelations. However, he wasn't forced to do an interview with them, so kudos that he did it anyway.

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When Justin Gatlin is the potential winner of your premier event, you really need to look at your doping regulations.

Thank G-d Gatlin lost. Never liked him before he was a doping scumbag, hate him even more now.

Edited by Faster
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Meanwhile, WADA is also pussyfooting around the doping issue, brown-nosing Russia's anti doping officials:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/article-3207651/WADA-president-Sir-Craig-Reedie-s-comfort-email-Russia-s-senior-drug-buster-reveals-toothless-clampdown-doping.html

I guess it's only appropriate, therefore, that no one here seems to be interested in commenting on the sporting action in Beijing. ;) It's really a sickening abyss which has opened to the public eye in this core Olympic sport. Troubled times ahead also for Rio 2016!

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I guess it's only appropriate, therefore, that no one here seems to be interested in commenting on the sporting action in Beijing. ;) It's really a sickening abyss which has opened to the public eye in this core Olympic sport. Troubled times ahead also for Rio 2016!

That's what I've held all along - T&F is an over-rated activity. Drop all those long, boring track events...all those which require a 400m oval, the stupid steeplechase (I don't understand the part with getting your feet wet-- I mean, c'mon???), the hurdles are painful to watch; and the javelin and the stupid hammer. Drop those and you might still have a manageable, viable Olympics. Oh, the race-walking...are they serious??

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That's what I've held all along - T&F is an over-rated activity. Drop all those long, boring track events...all those which require a 400m oval, the stupid steeplechase (I don't understand the part with getting your feet wet-- I mean, c'mon???), the hurdles are painful to watch; and the javelin and the stupid hammer. Drop those and you might still have a manageable, viable Olympics. Oh, the race-walking...are they serious??

If it was you, you would throw all sports and athletes out of the Olympics and make it a two-weeks long opening ceremony anyway, right? ;)

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I am watching the World Championships. It has been a very good championships to rival Berlin, Helsinki and Paris. There has been one or two times I have had doping suspicions go through my head (won't be surprised if there was a positive test from the women's 800m final). But overall the competition has been at an extremely high level. Sometimes in the throws and jumps medalist are determined by mistakes and not excellence (London 2012 javelin and high jump as examples) but only the men's pole vault was really at a level below what would be considered normal. I mean watching Ashton Eaton in the decathlon was enthralling. He is a truly great American champion and the epitome of what is great about athletics. Dafne Schippers was another amazing athlete to watch and I will be completely honest. Canada's amazing performance has certainly helped and part of me believes that it won't happen if the sport was as dirty as it was in the mid 2000's.

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I'm afraid that we all should have more than just one or two doping suspicions regarding these World Championships. I mean, Kenya which had two athletes tested positive during the WCHs and had to face particularly strong allegations in the ARD and Sunday Times report, is now number 1 on the medal table for the first time ever. The very Dafne Schippers you just mentioned has managed to win silver and gold in events which are usually dominated by black athletes, and that with a personal performance increase during the past few years that raises more than just one eyebrow in the athletics community.

That said, it was interesting to see Russia plummeting from number 1 (in 2013) and a total of 17 medals to number 9 and only 4 medals this time around. That raises questions whether they were under the impression of the doping revelations, that means whether they stopped to medicate their athletes in order to deflect the suspicions away from them.

But apart from the obvious suspects, I cast the shadow of a doubt on all the athletes in these WCHs, even if it might be unjustified in a number of cases. It's just so hard to distinguish good from evil in athletics these days, when even a man like Usain Bolt is now declared a "goodie two shoes" or "clean man", as it is called in German, in the media just because he was never tested positive and ran against a man who is a repeated drug cheat. Just because someone hasn't been tested positive (yet) doesn't mean that he is clean. And that I would even apply to the German athletes of whom quite a few took a public stance against doping and IAAF beforehand.

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Purely in terms of the action we've seen this week, it's been an excellent championship. From a British perspective, I'm delighted to see this era's champions deliver again and a huge glut of young talent emerging that means British athletics is probably in as good a place as it has been since the last "golden generation" of Christie, Gunnell, Jackson and Edwards 20-odd years ago.

But I'm as troubled as Olympian2004 by Seb Coe's "declaration of war" comment, mainly because it appears to show a total lack of understanding of what the issue is. The issue, to me, is one of public confidence in the sport and that remark appeared to show an undue level of complacency. I hope it was just a ill-judged remark born out of his passion for the sport that made his name and his record of delivery in other areas of his career gives me grounds for optimism. But this has to be the biggest test of his political and administrative career yet and ANY merest suggestion that the new administration is trying to duck the issue is inevitably going to draw unfavourable comment and equally unfavourable comparisons with other sports that have had doping troubles. I do not want to see a Tour de France-style crisis happening on Coe's or anyone else's watch.

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But I'm as troubled as Olympian2004 by Seb Coe's "declaration of war" comment, mainly because it appears to show a total lack of understanding of what the issue is.

That statement was made when Coe was a candidate. Now he's won, he has the power to make improvements without necessarily giving the impression that the problem was out of control before he took over.

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It doesn't matter when he said it, or the context in which he said it. The very fact that he said it could easily be seen as an unwillingness to engage with the issue. That is something the IAAF can ill-afford.

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Very true. And if Coe said totally different things before an election than after an election, it would be objectionable and non-credible, too. So one has to be in doubt about his intentions, for no one makes such a harsh statement completely against one's own convictions. And Coe is very well aware of his media image - which explains why he behaved so professionally and even mostly politely in front of the ARD camera in Beijing, while one could feel, that beneath the mask he was still angry as hell about the ARD. I don't trust him.

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I don't believe in people who make bold statements before elections to really tackle the issues after they've won.

Even less so when these bold statements deny the issues that need to be tackled...

Coe may have his merits, but he's just as dubious for me as Bach or Platini: they have an unhealthy mix of business interests and their role in sports organisations which should be kept apart in a perfect world.

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The problem with that position is that Sergey Bubka's position didn't exactly fill one with confidence either. I've just re-read some of his quotes in the "declaration of war" story and he suggests the IAAF needs to find ways to stay "a step ahead of the dopers." If Coe's remarks suggest he's not in touch with reality, then I'd say Bubka's are even more alarming in that respect.

The bigger issue here for me is that there is a much wider debate to be had about anti-doping policies. I recently read a book by two Australian academics which argues for a whole new approach to drug control. Its ideas will not be palatable to the sporting mainstream, but they give you plenty to think about and sport's administrators would do well to do that.

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I don't quite understand, though, what exactly is alarming about Bubka's statement. The way I read it is that he says that IAAF needs to be aware of doping methods and step in before the athletes become aware and make use of those methods. So he basically calls for doping prevention. Or am I wrong?


The only thing that might be alarming about that statement is that it could indicate that IAAF wasn't "a step ahead of the dopers" until now. But even that is hardly a surprise, bearing in mind how many doping cases have been discovered in the past and how many additional doping cases might have been revealed by ARD and Sunday Times now.

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