© Copyright – 2016 – Athletics Illustrated
Russia is not the only country with a doping problem, however, they seem to harbour a culture of dishonesty and their athletes are subject to apparent systematic doping. Whereas for athletes in most other countries, cheating is done at their own free will or by pressure put on to them by coaches or agents. Both are wrong, but vastly different. In the latter, there is a choice.
Recently, by the good work of Hajo Seppelt of ARD TV in Germany, Kenya and Russia have been exposed.
It is likely that every single nation has dopers, some more than others.
The move to clean up the sport is getting very heated with governing bodies being blamed for ignoring, covering up and even extorting dirty athletes. Clean athletes and the media are now speaking out more and the public has had enough of it.
The most recent issue to rear its ugly head is apparent death threats from Kenyan athletes to New Zealand’s Zane Robertson.
Today, an article in the New Zealand Herald quotes Kiwi Zane Robertson of receiving these death threats. In the article, the Herald reports that specific threats have been around Robertson having a tractor tire put on him and to light it on fire. This is a torturous South African thing called necklacing.
When asked about the issue of doping and the threats, Robertson told Athletics Illustrated, “[It] absolutely needs to get out there! The more exposed the better. These threats were serious and by more than one person.”
Robertson and his twin brother Jake moved away from home when they were 17 years of age to live and train at altitude in Kenya. They have been away from home for nearly 10 years. The Robertson brothers now live in Ethiopia.
Robertson added, “I moved away from Kenya full time as I just don’t feel safe there anymore. I can say from what I’ve seen personally Ethiopia looks a lot cleaner than Kenya. I know they have their problems also it’s just harder to notice in the big city where I mind my own training. In Kenya I’ve spent more time in local circles and seen terrible things! I just can’t physically prove it. I’ve already tipped off authorities on what I know.”
Other athletes have tipped off authorities and little was done. This is where the clean athletes are becoming increasingly frustrated. For example on October 14, 2009 IAAF General Secretary Pierre Wiess wrote a letter to now permanently banned Valentin Balaknichev, former president of the ARAF, worried about the health and well being of doped Russian athletes. Nothing was done.
Whistleblower Yuliya Stepanov, before going to Hajo Seppelt at ARD TV, she had sent a 10-page letter to the World Anti-Doping Agency explaining how she tested positive, nothing was done about it. She was a victim of the Russian system. Apparently WADA could care less.
When the documentary aired, “How Russia Makes Champions”, it ultimately started the process that eventually saw the All Russian Athletics Federation get banned from international competition, including the 2016 Rio Olympic Games. Stepanov and her husband Vitaly, who ironically worked for the Russian Anti-Doping Agency, blew Russia’s cover.
Recently, the International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach refused to ban all of Russia (not just athletics) from the Rio Olympics. Media around the world took Bach to task for his cowardly move to put the onus on the individual federations to choose to ban Russia or not, as the International Association of Athletics Federations has done.
Robertson wasn’t going to let Ethiopia off the hook. He also told Athletics Illustrated, “Ethiopia has a problem! Big problem and it’s the same way Kenya dope, just hidden positive tests for bribe money.
“Drug testing is not at all up to standard, they have only two people in the whole country doing the tests. When they came to test me I asked them a few questions, despite being rude they just seemed not to care if they catch anyone and we’re sure Ethiopian athletes are “all clean”, their words.”
In late June of this year, star coach Jama Aden was busted in the Sabadell Hotel in Spain. He has ties to many international athletes including perhaps the biggest name from Ethiopia in Genzebe Dibaba, who recently set the 1500-metre world record and absolutely destroyed an admitted dirty record. Twenty-two athletes were in the hotel and each was tested on the spot.
The fallout from the bust has yet to be seen.
Below is the complete quote from the Herald article:
“I have been close to [doping],” he says. “I can’t name people or countries because I had some death threats a few months ago just for even mentioning the topic around the area.
I don’t want to get killed for doing what is right or speaking up but I feel Twitter and social media are a place I can do that.
The more athletes who speak out on the topic, I feel they will put pressure on these big governing bodies or federations to crack down on it and actually do something about it.
One of [the threats] was from a Kenyan. He said he was going to put a tractor tyre on me and set me on fire. That was just one of them.
I reported it [on Facebook], just a general report, but I can’t really do anything about it. These guys are obviously very proud of their athletic achievements and what they have done as a country. It’s that whole pride that sets them back. They are willing to win at any cost and willing to defend themselves at any cost. It’s a dangerous environment to be in.”