The politics of the fight against doping in sport

The WADA has produced an internationally accepted World Anti Doping Code that is upgraded on a regular basis in an attempt at keeping pace with developments among the drug cheats. In many respects therefore the fight against drugs in sport is one where the WADA is attempting to get ahead of the cheats and hence there is now great emphasis on research at the level of the WADA.

Cheating Persists
The annual Tour de France has become news headlines over the past few years not because of the crowning achievements of the athletes for their incredible cycling skills, but rather for the seemingly pervasive use of drugs by cyclists to ensure success in the event.
The past two editions of the Tour de France (2006/2007) have been the worst in terms of drug scandals. Last year's winner, Floyd Landis, tested positive following what analysts saw as an unbelievable performance to move rapidly up the ladder to success in the event after being well behind the leaders. Landis' claim to innocence eventually floundered and he was stripped. During this year's edition of the once prestigious event one was not at all sure that there would have been any cyclist to complete the event, given the pace with which drug cheats were being exposed.
Cycling, in an effort to save face, has taken a tough stance, demanding that drug cheats be banned for two-years and lose one year's salary. But perhaps the biggest blow to the sport comes from the speedy withdrawal of sponsors of teams long associated with the competition, a move that could seriously jeopardise the Tour de France and the entire sport of cycling.
In other sports, the spectre of drugs being used to enhance performance to guarantee success by any means possible has been all too familiar. One is therefore forced to express concern over the success of the IOC and many of the IFs in their struggle against drugs in sport.

Mixed Signals
At its most recent Congress in Osaka, Japan, a few weeks ago, the Council of the International Association of Athletics Federations, IAAF, received a very strong mandate to insist on a four-year suspension for first offenders when the WADA meets 15-17 November to review the doping code. The IAAF was the first and only IF to have had a four-year suspension for first offenders several years but softened that position in an effort to fall in line with the other IFs that were prepared to be more lenient and accept a two-year suspension.