Dopers and dupers: Why you can't believe anyone in the sordid Russian affair
Former Wada head Dick Pound was the only one who was not really surprised by what his own commission found
Despite appearances, there is one person who is really not shocked, outraged or even alarmed. That person is Dick Pound, the former president of the World Anti-Doping Agency. Pound chaired a Wada commission that released a 325-page report into the systemic doping of Russian athletes. The report found that the Russian Athletics Federation, under the auspices of sports minister Vitaly Mutko was complicit in widespread illegal doping of athletes and that their drug testing labs were "rife with corruption".
Pound called for the Russian federation and its athletes to be suspended for 2016, an Olympic year. He said he was "shocked" at the level of doping, but he really wasn't. Pound has been an outspoken anti-doping critic going back more than 30 years to his days as IOC vice-president. Not surprisingly, Mutko claimed he was "shocked and outraged" and it was a smear campaign on behalf of western powers.
Pound is not buying it. "It was impossible for [Mutko] not to be aware of it," he said. "And if he's aware of it, he's complicit in it." And if Mutko is complicit then you can safely assume his chief benefactor, Russian President Vladimir Putin, is aware of it as well. Of course, Putin has also expressed his "shock" at the findings and ordered an internal investigation as the International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF) provisionally suspended Russian athletes from competitions. Ah yes, the IAAF.
Naturally, its new president, England's Sebastian Coe, expressed his "shock at these alarming accusations". Less than two weeks ago Coe was in Russia visiting Mutko and articulated his appreciation for their "openness and passion for our sport". What a difference a week makes and when interviewed a few days ago Coe reiterated how he had no clue whatsoever of these allegations and was totally blindsided and duped.
Coe is a made man in the world of athletics, thanks to his double gold in the 1,500m, and Coe is a made man in England as well in large part because of his fine work as chairman of the 2012 London Olympics organising. The Games were a smashing success and Coe helped write the modern template for hosting urban Olympics in the 21st century, one that should be required reading for organisers of both Rio 2016 and Tokyo 2020. You would naturally think that Coe, who was vice-president of the IAAF since 2007 before ascending to the top job this year, would be the perfect man to sort out this damning affair. However, part of the findings by Pound were that IAAF officials, most notably former president Lamine Diack, took bribes to cover up the Russian doping.
Diack, who last week resigned as honorary member of the IOC, is also under investigation in France on allegations of corruption and money laundering. This is the same Diack who Coe recently claimed "will always be our spiritual president and will certainly be my spiritual president".
The impetus for Pound's investigation was a German documentary released in December 2014 detailing the systemic Russia doping programme thanks to a number of whistleblowers and endless official documentation. Coe immediately dismissed the report out of hand as a smear job.
When pressed last week by venerable English interviewer Jon Snow about how Coe as vice-president of the IAAF had to either be "asleep on the job or corrupt" to miss Diack's duplicity and Russian doping, Coe played the Sergeant Schultz card. He knows nothing. Squirming in a sea of doublespeak and haggard clichés, Coe looked every bit like the politician the former Conservative MP once was.
All of this scandal must come as great news to Fifa because the perpetually beleaguered soccer association can now, temporarily at least, pass the harsh glare of the odious spotlight on to the IAAF. Well, not quite because Mutko is also on the Fifa executive committee and is running the organising committee for the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
Not surprisingly, Fifa has announced its ethics committee is investigating the actions of Mutko. So if you are completely aghast and incredulous at the notion that Fifa and its ethics committee as well as Putin and his investigation and Coe and the IAAF and their investigation will get to the bottom of this whole sordid affair, then welcome, my friends, to the world of shock and outrage. It's all the rage these days.