Olympics Anti-Doping and Social Media

Olympics Anti-Doping and Social Media

Aug 2, 2016

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I first looked at doing this article related to the Russian Olympic Team and doping issues.  There is a lot going on presently on this topic with additional reports and information coming out late this week.

This particular issue has come up many times before but had not received this much ‘play’ by the media.  What could be driving this issue to this level this time?  The good news for the rest of us is that the IOC (International Olympic Committee) is broadcasting their meetings via YouTube live.  Yes, social media.

With the games coming up within the next few weeks, WADA (World Anti-Doping Agency) presented a study questioning Russian athletes meeting anti-doping standards by WADA’s ‘Independent Person’ (IP), Prof. Richard McLaren, with input of the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) and International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF).  The issue relates to the corruption and related issues associated with drug testing and the Russian government, including some ‘missing samples.’  The samples were found and the athletes tested positive.  However, the damning issue was that the report specifically cited evidence of state-sanctioned doping in Russia.

Related Details: https://www.olympic.org/news/background-information-to-the-decision-of-the-ioc-executive-board-concerning-the-participation-of-russian-athletes-in-the-olympic-games-rio-2016

The issues also involved a ‘whistle-blower,’ an athlete who presented information on the particular issue.

There were calls for banning all Russian athletes from the 2016 Olympics, calls for outing the whistle-blower, and calls for assumption of guilt on behalf of Russian athletes – all from social media.

Watching the resulting response to the issue with the 1st IOC Executive meeting held today (August 2nd), the variety of positions by the members echoed some of the social media positions.  The IOC’s position was presented before comments and some of the athletes presented their concerns.  Overall, the discussion was how to ensure that drug-free athletes were well represented.

The IOC President Thomas Bach called on Russia to ‘live up to its commitment of a complete and comprehensive restructuring of its anti-dopint system.’  He rejected calls for a total ban on Russian athletes.  However, Russian athletes will have to meet stricter criteria than other athletes, including proving that they are drug-free.  According to the IOC executive committee, ‘the policy eliminated the presumption of innocence and instead requires Russian athletes to prove they have not violated anti-doping rules.’

In the meantime, in addition to a report that did not particularly surprise the recipients, pressure from social media appears to have pressed the issue.  We see this repeatedly with armchair athletes/referees voicing their opinions loudly where there was no voice, other than in a bar or living room, in the past.  This raises the question of how much validity should be given to a handful of social media complaints versus the presumption of innocence, in general.  Far too often, social media enthusiasts are quick to ‘pull the trigger’ without all, or any (in most cases), of the information resulting in a new-World lynch mob.

In all, IMHO, the IOC presented a middle of the road resolution in response to both the reports and social media.

(Ref: Olympic.org)

Howard W Penrose, Ph.D., CMRP is the owner of IronAuthority.com and a UAW Local 1981 registered journalist and publisher.



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