We all accept that world sporting bodies – just like national governments – have to spend a great deal of their time treading a balance between principle and practicality.
Whether it is better to ‘play ball’ with pariahs in the hope that exposure to the rest of us will encourage good practice – or to ostracise them with the intent of shaming them into it, the list is endless: the sporting boycott of South Africa over apartheid, Russia and the systematic use of performance-enhancing drugs and currently (in the world of geo-politics) Saudi Arabia and the assassination of Jamal Khashoggi, to name but three examples – the last complicated by the West’s desire to protect its access to oil and/or those of its jobs dependent upon warfare-arms production, and/or even its influence in the Middle East.
In sport, of course, world governing bodies are inextricably linked to big business, commercial reality and corruption and – the bigger the sport, event/tournament or issue – the murkier become the complications.
When it comes to the use of performance-enhancing drugs, some of us find it impossible to understand – still less accept – the craven attitude of sporting bodies towards Russia. Everyone with an ounce of intelligence knows that Russia will do anything to remain at the sporting world’s top table where – by appearing to belong there – it can kid its own people about its importance in the world and perpetuate its malign influence. The cynical among us shook our heads when – against all logic and reason – Russia was successively awarded the right to hold the Winter Olympics and the FIFA World Cup.
You don’t need to be Einstein to realise that dealing harshly with Russia is the best way to hit where it hurts and thereby get it to clean up its act.
Not that anyone seems to have told the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA).
See here for its latest scandal – as reported by Sean Ingle in a piece today that appears upon the website of – THE GUARDIAN