mid-day editorial: Doping robs the sheen from sports medals

Published: Dec 12, 2016, 07:53 IST | mid-day correspondent |

The sliver of innocence left in sport has been taken away from recent revelations sending shockwaves through the sports world

The sliver of innocence left in sport has been taken away from recent revelations sending shockwaves through the sports world. A report by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has revealed that more than 1,000 Russians, including Olympic medallists, benefited from a state-sponsored doping programme between 2011 and 2015.

There were at least 30 sports including football that covered up samples, the report says. Most importantly, this was an institutionalised medal-winning conspiracy, says Richard McLaren, who authored the eponymous McLaren report. He also added that the London 2012 Games were corrupted on an unprecedented scale.

As if the football sex abuse scandal were not enough, this is sure to shake the pillars of sport even further. It is the scale of corruption that should raise eyebrows and the fact that the Russian authorities were complicit in the crime.

Those who believe sport at this level is clean are hopelessly naïve. Yet, even the most sceptical will taste ashes on their tongue because of the mammoth size of this deceit and the way it was conducted. It is now evident that the faster we run to catch the dope cheats, the more technology evolves, the faster they find loopholes, the farther they are willing to go to win a medal.

This is going to be hardest on the fans, who look up to the athletes as superhumans because of their single-minded pursuit of excellence. But sportspersons have let down their fans. How can such super fit human beings, whose skill and strength belies belief, give in to moral weakness?

As proof after proof tumbles out of the sporting closet of dope-fuelled medallists, fans are turning away. But the empty spectator seats might just turn out to be the only way to stop the cheats. Nothing else will.

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