Olympic Autonomy On Life Support As IOC Bosses Favour State Doping & Schism

Editorial: “The fight against doping in sport requires strong international leadership, none more so in this case, where the integrity of an entire Olympic and Paralympic Games is at stake. I maintain the view that any actions less than what WADA has recommended at this critical point in time risks Rio being overshadowed by a contagious suspicion of compromised integrity and damaging the reputation of the Olympic movement. While the immediate priority for all parties must be resolving matters relating to the impending 2016 Rio Olympics and Paralympics, these issues must not be allowed to fade into the background at the conclusion of the Games.” – Sussan Ley – Australian Sports Minister. Expect more of that from around the world in the days, weeks and months ahead

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Craig, Great article and commentary. Its a sad time for the Olympic Movement. Please don’t stop your uncompromising work to expose the wrongdoers in swimming and fight for a better environment for all swimmers from all countries.

In some perverse way I hope that FINA endorses all Russian swimmers to compete and that post the games medals are stripped or results nullified.

This would add momentum to the movement to completely replace this out of touch, corrupt, self-serving, incompetent Federation.

Craig Lord

Thanks for the kind note, BoetM

Lawrie Cox

BoetMate never a truer word in the last sentence. The bottom line to Rio is that it is rapidly becoming known as the complicit games. There is little chance FINA will stop any Russians other than those caught by the IOC words (surely an error on their part). The ideal leadership would be to bar all who have a doping history irrespective of country but of course that would involve some political gumption. Roll on the circus and sympathies to those who take part on the basis of hard work and being clean!


Where IS this movement ?? Mr Leonard’s “talking shop” ?? Tweets from retired performers; most well intentioned but more than a few having form as media “rentaquotes” ??

It has to be more than stirring editorials and it needs to be legitimately international so as to not be seen as just an Anglosphere “coup”. WHERE is the groundswell from Europe ?? Asia ?? You need much more than just USA, AUS & GBR

Yes, FINA IS probably irrevocably compromised and arguably unsalvagable but the hard reality is that this describes the overwhelming majority of international sporting bodies including the IOC.

Rio may very well BE “the straw that breaks the camel’s back” with regards to the Olympics and many intl sporting orgs. What too many are failing to realise that the fall-out may indeed be “terminal” for international sport as we know it …… not just a quick and easy fix and “it’ll all be fine in 12 months time”.

Each org in itself will have its own specific circumstances so there are no “cookie cutter” solutions.

– CAN all the money be recovered ??
– Can the corporate $$$ be induced back ??
– Is there the expertise to reconstruct these orgs or build viable new entities ? Its easy to spout catchphrases like “hand the sports back to the sportspeople !” but how many of them have the administrative/commercial capacity or the desire ?? Are THEY necessarily any more morally upright in themselves than those who have gone before them ??

Craig Lord

CW, your questions are good but some of them are more answered than you seem to suggest. The issue has gone far beyond ‘leonard’s talking shop’ really it has – and much of that business cannot be conducted in the open for obvious reasons (when at war, best not to send your tactical plans to the opposing army…). Looking at the media archive today I can see far more than rentaquotes having their say, really, so – and in many countries. I cannot reflect all of them here: I’d do nothing else all day. Where is the groundswell from Europe, you ask. Depends what you mean but I see and hear today many voices in sport and politics opposing the IOC decision – and in several languages. It may indeed be terminal for intl sport as we know it – and that would be a fine outcome on some levels. The corporate $ will always be there for great sport run well. And you don’t need the Olympics to achieve that, as tennis, golf etc testify to. The answer to your last question is ‘yes’, all those I know working to a better end have more backbone and determination and will to get the right thing done and serve the athlete than those running the show now. Of that I have no doubt. There are people at the helm of world swimming governance now (and not just now) who couldn’t care less what goes into the speed and spectacle as long as it makes speed and spectacle and the $$$ flow in. They should be hounded out – keeping the status quo and the same people will not get the job done. There will always be people who are motivated by the money than others and other things – independent oversight should be a part of any system, revamped or wholly new.


Craig, unless the corporate $$$ is intrinsically linked to the sport; it is inevitably “transient” and almost always sensitive to negative linkages. Some $$$ may/will come back but its optimistic to think that even 2/3 -3/4 will, at least in the medium/short term.

Golf, tennis – yes with regards to the golfing majors and probably 3/4 of the Grand Slams (the other remains a drain on the tax payers of a certain state). Outside of these, the survival of many tournaments remains tenuous.

Certain sports, where the Olympics are not the pinnacle of their “world”, can/will survive but those where the linkages are integral, esp for public sector funding, may be in strife if the Five Ring Circus falls.

Will some potentially migrate to different sports ? Very plausible. I AM talking in the general rather than swimming specific where there clearly ARE those corporates with intrinsic linkages but how many of those are more institutional rather than commercial ?

As for putated reform movement; these people may have the will, the backbone etc but do they have the brains and the political savvy ? The “morally” strong & determined are just as capable of missteps and debacles as the corrupt …. military history is full of them !!

I DO think said reform movement MUST have major & significant support and involvement from outside the Anglosphere; otherwise its liable to be still-born

Craig Lord

Indeed CW, to the last sentence – but for one thing: remove USA and AUS, if that ever happened – and you have a very big black hole and an unsustainable show, if you ask me. Imagine 5 leading federations taking their show elsewhere. Most of the rest of those who matter in elite swimming would follow. If FINA then wants to run a sport with the best of swimming from No 30 to 206, go ahead… FINA’s strengths rest with USA, AUS et el. Without them, FINA reverts to being a petrol brand alone in another realm. Of course, any who wish to achieve that, will need the will and uncompromising attitude required to get the job done and move things on. I feel it unjust and inaccurate of you to suggest those who wish change are somehow just as bad as what swimming has. That is not the case. FINA would change radically if the leading federations insisted on truly independent review and then oversight. IT would take the removal of 10 men to get the job done.

Martin McEvoy

I’m not convinced the loss of the ‘mere’ Anglosphere would not be fatal to FINA. Frankly if USA, AUS, GBR, CAN and RSA walked, for example, especially given sponsorship issues, FINA falls. And if those countries did walk into a decent new system, GER, FRA, DEN, SWE and NED and importantly JAP would probably follow, leaving Italy in a spot, and RUS and CHN isolated. At that point the IOC would also be in a blind panic, especially as it would likely set a precedent for other sports .

But if it were done, it needs done well, it probably needs some input from national governments re funding, and when the moment comes, it needs to be venomous. The cause and causes must be made clear, and names named.

And frankly, a similar move on WADA may need to be considered; if not an alternative to the Olympics themselves


My point is that if something is seen as purely an Anglosphere show; there is a very significant risk of others keeping their distance. Perceptions go both ways ….. and Anglosphere entities are just as prevelant to paternalism, cronyism and maladministration as any others.

Not saying ….. don;t do it but if an activist group is seen as being purely the vehicle of such nations/interests …. you are handicapping your chances of wider acceptance. Politics yes ….. but a reality. Have as many of the Western European nations PLUS JAP on board at the start or as early as possible !

WADA ?? Should go down with the rest of them and hopefully a far better entity created from the ashes. Certainly, some of the good has to be carried over but the entity itself and its heirachy …. no.


And by the way, I was not impugning the motives of the overwhelming majority of the ‘reform party’; its just the reality that good intentions alone are no guarantee of positive outcomes. It has to be married to competence and political savvy …. otherwise you’re left adrift and scarcely further forward than your start point

Craig Lord

Yes, CW. I do think they’re aware of both the mountain to climb and the need for skills beyond the coaching fraternity. That was very clear and accepted from the start, as far as my memory of being in a couple of meetings goes…


Isn’t easier to just remove the whole FINA’s current leaderships rather than creating a totally new system? or not?

Craig Lord

I’m sure that would indeed be easier and the better way, asf (not all people or things in FINA world are bad – the leadership is failing all of that, however) – but for that you need leading feds to show some resolve, shall we say … so far they’ve been worse than impotent on forcing any significant change to the structures that prop up a poverty of leadership and support the status quo. Fine that we have the news we have today; not good that the same is not being applied to others in the same situation form other countries; and all of this could and should have been universal a long time ago. We are seeing this on the cusp of 2016 Games because the powers that be failed to act when they should have and because the federations that could and should have forced that to happen forced nothing of the kind. Not just doping – there are issues on many levels in many areas

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