It has taken the Paralympic movement to show the way in the fight against the malign scourge of Russia’s state-sponsored doping and also to do so in with a passion, energy and curiosity that will make the world sit up and take notice.
Not only did its governing body want to meet Professor Richard McLaren, who laid bare Moscow’s insidious sample-switching operation last month, but to get the Russian Paralympic Committee’s side of the story, too. The Russians got their three hours in court in Bonn last week. No-one can say there has not been objectivity.
Since words speak loudest of all in these days, when so many have so little time to focus on the small detail, it then mattered hugely that the International Paralympic Committee’s Philip Craven did not mince his when he came to delivering judgement. He did not.
It was the same power to persuade that we also looked to from the International Olympic Committee’s president Thomas Bach who, before a global audience of billions at the Maracana Opening Ceremony on Friday night, had the opportunity to speak out against the malignity of what the Russians are perpetrating.
In that arena, in that moment, with billions looking across the planet, was the chance for Bach and the IOC to make a statement. Imagine the stunning effect of this German lawyer getting to his feet to say: “Russia, you have shamed yourselves and sport. You are iniquitous. Your deeds have been uncovered and there will be consequences. We will turn about every stone.”
Nothing. Not a word. Just the conspiracy of silence which makes sports governance seem, to the outside world, a preserve of the wealthy, the pompous and the self-serving. Bach even had the temerity to moralise at us. “We are living in a world where selfishness is gaining ground; where certain people claim to be superior to others,” he said.
His sermon was laughably meaningless as we assimilated the news that 270 Russian athletes would be here in Rio. This is the same Bach who did not even call McLaren about his report before the IOC decided that a blanket ban on Russians was inappropriate.
The Associated Press asked Bach’s people on Saturday why he had not mentioned the Russians on the opening night. He had already done so, in IOC committees, came back the reply. The boldness and verve of Bach’s Paralympic contemporaries simply reinforce what a grey and pointless individual he is.
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