A brief reminder of the meaning of ethics

To say that the world of sporting athletes (clean ones that is) and the world of antidoping (as in the World Anti Doping Agency) has had a bit of a clash is perhaps the greatest understatement in sport currently. In fact WADA seems to have crashed and burned with most of the World’s national antidoping agencies since its decision to again allow Russia to carry out doping tests on its athletes and also to, again, be able to host international events. The bulk of the criticism comes from the fact that this decision was taken despite the fact that Russia had not yet taken the measures set out by WADA following the so called McLaren report. Not many days go by without athletes (for example Sweden’s Sebastian Samuelsson, National Antidoping Agencies or even an ex WADA lead investigator criticising the global watchdog. Much of the criticism is around WADA’s decision on Russia but also on how athletes feel they have not been listened to and how there is a perceived conflict of interest as the president of WADA is also an executive member of the International Olympic committee.

Ever since the 2015 World Anti Doping Code was published, and possibly even before that, there has been a movement wanting to separate the antidoping process from sport’s governing organisations and from the government. The reason being that sport, at least by some, is not trusted to control itself. This of course is a logical step. Having said this, I always remember the words of RF’s General Counsel, Christer Pallin, saying ”if ethics applied, lawyers would not be needed”. So the question then becomes, if wanting to change the current situation, is it best to work on the ethics or to employ more lawyers (or apply more control mechanisms)?

Of course it will never be one or the other but unless sport itself and the athletes competing in sports realise that the way (some) sports are headed leads to self destruction, there will never be enough control to apply to do away with the problem. Pia Nilsson, once the Head Coach of the Swedish National Golf Teams, and in those days my boss, always said:

”We (as in athletes and coaches) can never take sport for granted”.

This has simply never been more true.


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