Edwin Moses will always be remembered for one of the most dominant reigns in world sport. For a remarkable nine years, nine months and nine days, he remained invincible in the 400 meter hurdles, going unbeaten in 122 consecutive races. By the time he retired from track and field in 1989, Moses had won two Olympic gold medals, three World Cup titles and two World Championships. Despite these lofty achievements, however, it can be argued that Moses’ greatest contributions to sport have come through his whole-hearted dedication to protecting clean athletes. As a physicist with an MBA degree, Moses pioneered the development of anti-doping policies while Chairman of the United States Olympic Committee’s (USOC) Substance Abuse, Research, and Education Committee (CSARE). Along with being Chairman of the Board of Directors here at USADA, Moses also currently serves as Chairman of the Laureus World Sports Academy, an association of sporting legends, which uses the positive influence of sport as a tool for social change around the globe. He is also Chair of the World Anti-Doping Agency’s Education Committee. Recently, Moses put to pen paper in a passionately-crafted op-ed for The Sunday Times, one of the most widely circulated newspapers in the United Kingdom. In his piece, Moses addresses recent doping allegations within track and field, as well as the election of IAAF President Sebastian Coe – all the while reiterating his position that organizations cannot be depended upon to simultaneously promote and police themselves. You can read Moses’ op-ed in its entirety below.
Coe must end sport’s conflict of interest
The Sunday Times
Published: 23 August 2015
The sport of athletics has played an integral role in my life for more than 40 years, so it is extremely disheartening to watch as the integrity of the sport is once again called into serious question over doping. While it is inevitable that much of the media coverage and public conversation will center on speculation concerning who may or may not be cheating, it is absolutely imperative that as a sport community, we never lose sight of the people most affected by this situation: the clean athletes.
Cynicism too often finds its way into our modern sports culture, but in reality, the majority of athletes today are competing clean. It is these clean athletes that we should be celebrating and anti-doping organizations vying to protect. Globally, anti-doping organizations face a difficult but vitally important challenge: to safeguard the fundamental rights of these clean athletes, and prevent them from being painted with the same tarnished brush as those who make the abhorrent decision to cheat. So when accusations such as those alleged in both the recent German documentaries and The Sunday Times appear, they must be fully and impartially analyzed, because quite simply, the world’s clean athletes deserve it.
I am hopeful the Independent Commission formed by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) will have the access and resources needed to conduct a comprehensive investigation of those allegations. I also hope they will take swift and just action against anyone who they find to have violated the rules of sport.
With that being said, we would be remiss if we didn’t also take this opportunity to examine on a larger scale the inherent conflict of interest that exists when a sport is tasked with both policing and promoting itself. When the leadership of a sport is responsible for driving revenue and creating growth, it is unquestionably against their own self-interest to take appropriate action in matters of anti-doping. This is especially true when those actions may in turn damage the image of the sport or a profitable, high profile athlete. We have seen these conflicting interests play out time and time again, all to the detriment of clean athletes.
As the Chairman of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA), I can tell you with absolute certainty that it would be impossible for us to make some of the decisions we have to make if we were focused on any interest other than fulfilling our mission to preserve the integrity of competition, inspire true sport, and protect the rights of all clean athletes. As an independent organization that operates without government control, we must always be prepared to make the right decision, even when that decision is unpopular. It is a mission I know that our anti-doping partners at UK Anti-Doping share as well.
I now urge IAAF President-elect Sebastian Coe to make good on his recent calls for the establishment of an independent anti-doping program in athletics. He is stepping into a leadership role during tumultuous times, and if this sport is to see actual progress, the calls for change must be more than just talk. Athletics has struggled with doping scandals for more than 20 years, and we can no longer be placated with hollow words. The time for action is now. To that extent, clean athletes and the sporting world will watch with anticipation in the hope that Sebastian Coe will deliver on his word.
Clean athletes deserve a comprehensive anti-doping program that protects their rights, holds those that cheat accountable, and allows for them to focus on training and competition – assured in the knowledge that when they step out on the track, they are standing on a level playing field. But this does not just magically happen. To win the fight against drugs and corruption in sport, it takes will, determination, and resources.
Research has shown that the majority of public feel that the use of performance-enhancing drugs is the most serious problem facing sports today, and that there needs to be more action taken to prevent their use in both Olympic and professional sport. And while performance-enhancing drugs are known to be the greatest threat, anti-doping organizations around the globe are drastically underfunded.
It is estimated that the global sports industry generates as much as 446 billion pounds yearly. Yet, in the face of those who seek to corrupt the integrity of competition in an attempt gain unfair advantage, the global sports community has allocated an embarrassingly miniscule slice of that financial pie to equipping independent anti-doping organizations and WADA with the resources they so desperately need. WADA’s annual budget represents an abysmally small 0.00365% of all sports revenue, and yet they are expected to oversee a global anti-doping program. When you take it the next level, to national anti-doping organizations, many countries have total yearly budgets less than half of one top-flight football player’s salary.
Without the appropriate financial resources many anti-doping organizations can’t afford to fund research to develop testing methods that stay ahead of the cheaters, nor do they have the finances to collect enough samples or pay for special analysis for substances like hGH, EPO, and for CIR testing.
When doping is the greatest risk to the success of your sport and the health and safety of your athletes, it begs the question: why aren’t sports willing to pour an adequate portion of those billions into protecting the integrity and future of their sport? What could be more important?
Like many National Anti-Doping Organizations around the world, USADA is honored to fight for clean athletes; and in turn, I would hope clean athletes are proud of their anti-doping organizations. They should be proud to say that they are clean and they should be proud that all the athletes in their respective sport are being held to the highest standards of athletic integrity. When athletes lose confidence in the integrity of any part of the global anti-doping effort, the whole system fails.
No matter the outcome of the investigation into athletics, it is of the upmost importance that we never forget where our collective responsibility truly lies: the protection of those athletes who choose integrity over deception, hard-work over fraudulence, and courage over cowardice.