Transparency Concerns in Running; Kenya Anti-Doping Agency Broke

Craig Virgin Demands More Transparency to Maintain Integrity in Running

Breaking two American records within nine days is eye-opening, especially for a distance runner.  But when an athlete finishes a 2-mile race, then completes a grueling 5×1,600 meter workout, finishing the last repetition in 4:01 shortly thereafter, it is is enough to make your head spin and jaw drop. Or does it arouse suspicion? LetsRun.com features an article of how a Facebook post written by three-time Olympian and two-time World Cross Country Champion Craig Virgin on Galen Rupp’s incredible races ignited a heated debate on whether Virgin’s statement was out of jealousy. In short, Virgin wondered what supplements and/or medications Rupp took, including whether Rupp took TUE’s (Therapeutic Use Exemptions – these allow athletes to take substances that are banned for professional athletic use, but the World Anti-Doping Agency will grant an exemption, usually for medical reasons), and asked for transparency across the board for all track and field athletes. Virgin did not mention Rupp as the sole athlete for concern, but the meat of the article does focus on Rupp and his recent exploits. The public took issue with the way Virgin phrased his statement, as some interpreted it to mean Virgin accused Rupp and Alberto Salazar, Rupp’s coach, of cheating. Others chimed in on the discussion, calling Virgin “jealous” of Rupp’s stunning performances. Virgin took it upon himself to try and correct his statement several times. It appears that Virgin simply wants WADA to enforce transparency within the sport in order to maintain its integrity, as well as allowing other athletes to know what supplements and medications an athlete is or is not taking. Rupp’s fast recovery after such a difficult and impressive performance is groundbreaking, as a recovery like this in running has never been seen before. Virgin makes two points: one is to display what Rupp is doing so that others may know for sure it is being done “the right way,” and the other is to express concern. The concern is that with the rigorous training, an injury could lead to a catastrophic and premature end to a brilliant career. I am not so sure that Virgin was concerned; Rupp is a seasoned athlete, and Salazar is one of the most famous coaches in track and field. While Virgin has his credentials, one must wonder if it is Virgin’s place to publicly worry about Rupp’s training regime.

While Virgin believes this is the best approach, the last portion of the article weighs in on the benefits of concealing such supplements. Ricky Simms, sports agent for Rupp, Mo Farah and Usain Bolt, commented that his athletes would not release information on what supplements they took within the last seven days. He confirmed with Rupp that Rupp had not taken a TUE within the last three years. Although that is the case, Simms feels that more transparency would lead to public exposure, which could lead to damaging comments by the uninformed public. Social media has a dangerous habit of making uninformed comment on subjects beyond their control, and that could lead to irreparable damage to the athlete’s reputation. A better solution is simply to avoid making such comments to the media. Moreover, younger athletes that see this may be encouraged to partake of supplements and medications they do not need. He also added that when athletes are tested, they declare the medications and supplements they are taking. An athlete testing positive usually leads to the public knowing about it. In short, let the testing agencies do their job, not the public.

Kenya’s Task Force for Anti-Doping Testing is Broke

We turn to international news, where Standard Digital ran a story on how the task force armed with the responsibility to investigate the increase in doping cases has insufficient funds to continue on. The task force, headed by Moni Wekesa, was created in an effort to address an inquiry by WADA “after an undercover German television journalist reported that the blood-boosting drug EPO and other doping products were readily available to local athletes.” Wekesa’s committee already used up the Sh4.5 million (Kenya’s currency system relies on shillings) set aside for these investigations, and demands an additional Sh18 million from the government to comply with WADA’s inquiry. The committee met with the Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Sports several times, but the government refuses to provide any additional funding for the project. If the committee cannot secure any more funding, it must abandon the project. If that occurs, then Kenya will be unable to respond to WADA concerns. Failure to do so will prevent local athletes from participating in major international competitions.

In Europe, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) claims to have a substantially stringent anti-doping regime, and apparently Russian organizers of the Winter Games do not have all of the hotels ready for the media to arrive.

Finally, in other sports news, a new Major League Soccer team will debut in 2016 in Miami. Who is the new owner? It is none other than David Beckham, one of the most famous English football players. Beckham, though, may face fiduciary and political issues in finding a stadium and financing the new team.

 

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