On Wednesday, the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee continued its inquiry into “Combating Doping in Sport”.
This is the select committee that has uncovered significant information
in the Team Sky “Jiffy bag” controversy and it was at it again earlier this week when it got some revealing answers from Dr Rob Chakraverty, the England football team doctor who has worked with Mo Farah.
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Last year’s “Fancy Bears” data leak had suggested that a lack of proper records for L-carnitine infusions was commonplace for athletes coached by Alberto Salazar.
L-carnitine is an amino acid that helps athletes get lean and improves performance – it is not banned outright but the amount that can be administered to athletes is strictly controlled. Too much and there is an anti-doping rule violation.
The parliamentary committee was looking into the administration of L-carnitine to Mo Farah as he prepared to run his first-ever London Marathon, in 2013.
In the aftermath of the hearing, the details remain somewhat sketchy.
Dr Chakraverty admitted he had administered the substance to
Farah, although he insisted that it was well below the legal limit and
he also conceded that he had failed to log the injections of L-carnitine
on the UK Athletics medical system, but stressed this was an oversight rather than something more sinister.
That Farah should take the substance at all was initially suggested by his long-term coach, Salazar.
The American has been dogged with suspicion over the past few
years with allegations of nefarious behaviour following his every turn.
An investigation by the American anti-doping agency USADA has suggested that Salazar has “almost certainly” broken anti-doping rules in giving high levels of L-carnitine infusions to a number of his athletes and there is also much suspicion about his use of testosterone.
Farah has not been accused of breaching anti-doping regulations.
What is so remarkable about Farah is his seeming inability to gauge how damaging his ongoing connection with Salazar is.
The reputation of the Olympic champion is most certainly being tarnished by his continued-association with Salazar.
Farah is certainly one of the greatest track and field athletes that Britain has ever produced, perhaps the greatest ever.
That he appears oblivious to the damage that is being done to his reputation is astonishing. And, unless he starts acting with more nous, his legacy is likely to be damaged irreparably.
AND ANOTHER THING…
The governing bodies of sport must be applauded for trying to keep up with the times but an announcement earlier this week shows that things are getting out of control.
On Tuesday, the Olympic Council of Asia revealed that e-sports will be included in the official programme for the 2022 Asian Games following its appearance as a demonstration sport at next year’s event. Yes, this is exactly what it sounds like – it’s playing computer games.
Sport must evolve and the decision by the International Olympic Committee last year to invite somewhat “cooler” sports such as surfing, baseball/softball, sport climbing and skateboarding into the Games was welcome as the expanded sport programme is likely to bring the Olympics to a wider audience.
But to consider bringing e-sports into the elite sporting arena is nothing short of ridiculous. What’s next – competitive WhatsApping?
There is no escaping that e-sports is big business; last year, it generated £400 million in revenue and reached a global audience of 320 million people. This year, figures are predicted to rise further.
These stats should not be sniffed at, but for sport to be jumping on the bandwagon is laughable and does serious damage to the credibility of major sporting events.
That the Asian Games, which is considered by many sports on that continent second in importance only to the Olympic Games, is including a discipline which is so clearly not sport is not only farcical, it is also worrying.
Is the stock of major sporting events falling so quickly that the organisers must resort to gimmicks? Only time will tell if e-sports is here to stay as part of the programme in major sporting events. Let’s hope not.