The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) is investigating allegations against systematic doping that may have helped Russian athletes win Olympic medals.
Sadly, if not for a handful of whistle-blowers, it would have been business as usual for the Russians in the upcoming Olympics in Rio.
“It would have been just another parade through the Olympic movement,” 60 Minutes Sports correspondent Armen Keteyian said on CBS Sports Radio’s The DA Show. “If it had not been for people like Vitaly (Stepanov) and (his wife) Yuliya, who put their lives on the line – I think this is what WADA is struggling with right now. If WADA is not in the business of exposing cheating – literally they’re the World Anti-Doping Agency – I don’t know what more about their charter is more important than exposing people that are trying to cheat the system. But what you’ve heard this week is we don’t have enough money and we haven’t figured out the procedures to protect the whistle blowers. I think our reporting has shown there is a need for change in how WADA operates, that people who are willing to put their lives on line, there has to be some mechanism in place that people within countries that are cheating for profit and for medals, when they come forward, have to have the protection of not only the World Anti-Doping Agency, but if it’s in the United States, the United States Anti-Doping Agency. I don’t know given all the political clout and the political machinations that are going on between these countries – and the importance of having the Russian track and field team at Rio – how this is all going to play out.
“But in my mind – and it’s not just my mind – this is a defining moment in the anti-doping moment in this country and around the world,” Keteyian continued. “If this doesn’t change how things are being done, I don’t know what it would take to get things to change. It’ll be very interesting next month when the decision is going to be made as to see whether the Russian track and field team is going to be able to compete in Rio.”
U.S. 800-meter runner Alysia Montano probably lost out on a medal – and possible a gold – at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. She led after 600 meters but was run down by Russians Mariya Savinova and Ekaterina Poistogova – two “robots,” as Montano called them – who finished first and third, respectively. Montano finished fifth.
“She got run down like she was standing still and lost out on a medal,” Keteyian said. “It has affected her life in a way that you can’t begin to imagine. When you devote your entire life – four years of training – to two minutes, and that is taken away by people who are systematically doped, I don’t know how you come to judgment with stuff like that. It took her a long time to figure out how to deal with that. If that’s not important to the Olympic ideal and the Olympic movement, I don’t know what the hell is. To me, that’s what the olympics are all about. You protect clean athletes. I don’t care if you protect countries. I don’t care if you protect programs. But you protect those people that have devoted their lives to trying to run for the reasons that the Olympics were founded in the first place. If that’s not what this is all about, I don’t really know what it’s about.”