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Issue #1741      July 27, 2016

Editorial

Olympics as political tool

Judging by the celebratory nature of the “revelations” claiming systemic, government-sanctioned drug use among Russia’s athletes, the world must conclude that the scourge of drugs-in-sport has been at last wiped out. And the finger of blame and guilt is pointed squarely, and only, at Russia. Yet, when Western news media react in unison to universally push a negative story about Russia it has the telltale hallmark of a Pavlovian response. Somebody rings a bell and suddenly the media are salivating like well-trained hounds.

And the Western media are full of howling headlines impugning Russia for running a “state-sponsored” doping program among its athletes. During the last 12 months the unverified findings have swiftly led to predictable calls for the Russian authorities to be sanctioned and even for its athletes to be banned from the Olympic Games in Brazil.

Virtually, anything that Russia does now is subject to allegations of malign intent. Under President Vladimir Putin, Russia is “destabilising the international order” – as US Defence Secretary Ashton Carter has charged – again without the slightest shred of evidence. In turn, these allegations are used to justify a massive military build up by Washington and its NATO allies across Europe. Russia is bad, evil, sinister, threatening, so the assertions go. There is once again the danger emanating from the Slavic superpower and only Washington and its NATO allies are capable of “protecting the Free World”. This is the brainwashing formula that was relentlessly injected into the Western public mind during the old Cold War – now being applied again 25 years after it officially ended.

The whole media chorus is based on a report from the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA). The agency is a non-governmental organisation headquartered in Montreal, Canada. It is associated with the International Olympic Committee, but it is a private organisation with no legal foundation to “clean up athletics” as its mission statement contends. Interestingly, WADA announced in March last year that it received US$6.5 million in funding from various governments, including the US. Russia was not among its benefactors. WADA’s investigation into allegations of doping in Russian sports followed a media report at the end of 2014 carried out by German TV company ARD in conjunction with Britain’s Sunday Times. The latter publication is a notorious conduit for Western intelligence.

Russian government and sporting authorities have this week dismissed the accusations as “groundless” and of being issued without any “verifiable evidence”. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said: “We can’t comment on allegations when no evidence has been presented.” That means that the Western media commotion this week alleging Russian state-sponsored drug dealing in sports is based on a questionable media source and conducted by a private organisation which has no governmental or international legal foundation.

Almost every country has been implicated in the abuse of drugs by athletes. None more so than the United States. Think of some of the most famous and later disgraced stars of international sports: Marion Jones, Tim Montgomery, Carl Lewis. All of those mentioned are American and some have been stripped of their Olympic medals. Then there is the best known serial drug cheat of all: US cyclist Lance Armstrong.

The problem of illicit drugs has a long history and no nation is free from the vice. The selective focus by a self-appointed Western-led watchdog, WADA, on allegations of sporting violations in one country – Russia – is totally unacceptable. What is required is an internationally standardised organisation under the remit of the Olympic body to apply verifiable strictures in all countries. Notably, British Conservative Party member Lord Sebastian Coe, who heads the International Athletics Association Federation, has been among the outspoken voices calling for sanctions against Russia. Coe was also on Britain’s World Cup bidding team that lost out to Russia for the 2018 tournament.

Ivan Pavlov, the Nobel-winning Russian scientist famed for his work on psychological conditioning, must be having a good old laugh in his heavenly abode.

Next article – No to WorkChoices on water

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