Will Tokyo 2020 be the Dopest Olympics?
With less than a year left before the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Summer Games kick off, yet the excitement and thrill usually associated with the games, are overshadowed by a long string of doping scandals. After the release of the detailed report by the New York Times, providing evidence for systematic state-run doping of Russian athletes, which threatens the participation of the Russian team in the 2020 games, recent discoveries suggest that doping is extremely prevalent in various Olympic sports.
Sun Yang at the 2019 World Championship
Freestyle Swimming legend, Sun Yang of China, who was the first swimmer to hold Olympic and World Championship titles in all Freestyle distances from 200 to 1500 meters, was once again involved in a doping scandal. Yang, who was banned by the Chinese swimming federation for 3 months in 2014 for doping may have found himself in deeper trouble, as he faces current allegations of systematically destroying tainted doping tests to avoid detection. While the allegations are being investigated, Yang was allowed to compete in the World Championship, which was held in South Korea in late July. After winning the 2019 World Championship 400 M Freestyle race, he was snubbed by many of his colleagues, with Australian swimmer Mack Horton – backed by many others in the swimming community – boycotting the ceremony in light of the allegations against Yang. Senior members of the British team to the World Championship have referred to Yang as the ‘Harry Houdini of anti-doping tests’ and maintained that until he is cleared of the suspicions surrounding him for years, all of his results should be questioned.
A few weeks ago the Thai delegation has been banned from the 2019 Weight Lifting World Championship being hosted in Thailand, following positive doping tests. Despite their protest, the ban remained in place, and the media scandal surrounding it completely overshadowed the much-anticipated event in Bangkok. Finally, just this week, the Chinese Anti-Doping Agency (CHINADA) has issued a 4-year ban for former Olympic gold medallist, volleyball player Yang Fangxu, on the ground of violating doping laws.
Gerardo Werthein, suspicious motivations
Doping is a growing concern in the Olympic community and the constant revelations from different countries and in so many different sports threaten to tarnish the reputation of the Olympics and overshadow the Tokyo games. Therefore it would perfect sense that the abolition of doping from the Olympics will be of utmost importance for the International Olympic Committee (IOC) – yet certain leading figures in the committee are inexplicably opposed to tightening the anti-doping regulations, and some, like Gerardo Werthein president of the Argentinian Olympic Committee (COA), are trying to limit the authority of WADA (World Anti-Doping Agency) – the agency in charge of making sure the Olympic games remain clean – or even shut it down. The dark motivation behind their actions will be revealed in the upcoming weeks.