Golden 25 - #3 - The Anti-Doping Warriors

(ATR) The fight against doping in sport is rallying supporters and critics as milestones loom for 2017.

(ATR) The World Anti-Doping Agency – regardless of its imperfections – remains the vanguard for the war on drug cheats in Olympic sports.

WADA President and IOC member Craig Reedie was the leading advocate on the IOC for the total ban on Russian athletes at the Rio Olympics. But it was a recommendation the IOC snubbed, a decision the IOC has been on the back foot to defend since rejecting the recommendation last July.

The aftermath continues with the launch of IOC disciplinary action into alleged tampering with samples from 28 Russian athletes at the Sochi Olympics. Thus the battle looms in 2017 over what the IOC will do about Russia and the 2018 Winter Games should the new IOC inquiry return findings of violations.

Reedie, elected to a final three-year term last month, will pilot WADA through this morass. Reedie, 75, is also an IOC member in Great Britain. Until now, he’s been a minority voice on drastic action against Russia, but with the assertions of Sochi tampering said to be confirmed in the latest McLaren report, Reedie may find more support.

National anti-doping agencies such as USADA in the U.S. headed by Travis Tygart, the UK, Canada and Germany are also taking hardline positions to sanction entire nations from the Olympics over systemic doping failures.

It remains to be seen what will happen with the reform commission in Russia led by former IOC member Vitaly Smirnov. He and other Russian sports leaders, including Vladimir Putin, have rejected the premise of state-sponsored doping as the problem in Russia.

The final word will come from the two IOC commissions that are charged with determining once and for all, whether the Russian doping scandal is a product of the government support.

Swiss IOC member Denis Oswald and Swiss jurist Samuel Schild, a member of the IOC Ethics Commission, will issue their findings in 2017.

Long term changes to anti-doping such as the creation of an independent agency to handle testing of athletes worldwide, could move forward in 2017, if there’s really a will to do so.

There had been talk of a world anti-doping summit in 2017 but there seem to be no plans yet for such a meeting.

German journalist Hajo Seppelt is one of the watchdogs outside the anti-doping agencies who is having an effect with his reporting. In Russia (supposedly) a hacker site called Fancy Bears has eagerly published emails and confidential medical documents that expose the details of therapeutic use exemptions granted to some of the world’s top Olympians not from Russia. The hacking and other cyber threats to anti-doping agencies and athletes is a serious issue for experts to deal with in the year ahead.

Homepage photo: Getty Images

Written by Ed Hula.