Tuesday 27 September 2016

Comment: 'Believing in sport is getting harder. It's all politics and cheating'

Michael McCarthy

Published 11/11/2015 | 02:30

Canadian Richard Pound, Chairman of WADA's (World Anti-Doping Agency) Independent Commission (IC), presents Commission's Report surrounding allegations of doping
Canadian Richard Pound, Chairman of WADA's (World Anti-Doping Agency) Independent Commission (IC), presents Commission's Report surrounding allegations of doping

When I started my journalism career, sport was the only area in which I was interested in working. I couldn't handle the 'phonies' and chancers that masqueraded as our politicians. Sport was where the really interesting stories were, and it was truer than the "real world".

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Years later, it's still interesting, but the romanticism is gone. Sport is politics. Sport is special interests. Sport is cheating.

On Monday, Dick Pound published the WADA-commissioned report accusing Russian Athletics of a massive doping regime that "sabotaged" the 2012 Olympics.

When asked about the credibility of sport, he had this to say: "Public opinion is going to move towards the view that all sport is corrupt and that certainly affects the credibility of sport. The actions we found here that affect the outcome of competitions on the field of play are particularly serious. If you can't believe those results, then it's a serious credibility problem for that sport, and by implication for other sports as well."

This really hit home. I've spent a lifetime watching, supporting and covering sport. Has it been worth it? Is something so rotten what I want to spend my career on?

Next summer in Rio, we'll find ourselves drawn to sports we only care about once every four years. There's something wonderful about that. It's nostalgic, it's romantic, it's what sport is meant to be.

But is any of it real? There's few results that won't raise eyebrows. We'll question everything. And it's not just the Olympics. Football is rotten to the core before we even get to the inevitable first massive drug scandal in the game. American Football has been my sporting sanctuary in recent years, yet there's been exposé after exposé about the NFL, consistent doping issues and domestic abuse cases among its players. It's hard to justify supporting this product.

Some sports are worse than others but are any getting better? It's hard to believe.

I'm not quite giving up on sport just yet. We'll keep our head in the sand a little longer. But Dick Pound's words have struck a chord. It's getting harder.

Irish Independent

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