Diego Armando Maradona durante la rueda de prensa tras su suspensión de la Copa del Mundo, el 30 de junio de 1994 Credit Tim Sharp/Associated Press

La imagen de Diego Maradona tomando de la mano a la enfermera que lo llevaba a hacerse el control antidopaje en el Mundial de Estados Unidos es una de las más famosas en la historia reciente del futbol.

Fue en junio de 1994, en Massachusetts, al final del partido que Argentina ganó contra Nigeria en la segunda fase de grupos. Cuando faltaban pocos minutos para terminar, el propio médico de la selección albiceleste, Roberto Peidró, le sugirió a la enfermera Sue Carpenter —encargada de acompañar a los jugadores sorteados a hacer la prueba antidopaje— que se acercara al hombre que llevaba el número 10 en la espalda: el mismo número que había resultado elegido en el sorteo previo al encuentro.…  Seguir leyendo »

Overall leader's yellow jersey Britain's Christopher Froome arrives at the anti-doping control bus at the end of the 172.5 km eighteenth stage of the 100th edition of the Tour de France cycling race on July 18, 2013 between Gap and Alpe-d'Huez, French Alps. AFP PHOTO / PASCAL GUYOT (Photo credit should read PASCAL GUYOT/AFP/Getty Images)

When the 105th edition of the Tour de France starts Saturday, departing from Noirmoutier-en-l’Île on its twenty-one-day, two-thousand-mile route around the country, for the first time in seven years I will not be physically following the race. I’m recovering from a broken hip, and a finish-line press scrum full of sharp-elbowed journalists and 200-pound cameramen is no place for a man on crutches. But my absence this year has left me with time to reflect on the job of reporting on a sport in which the truth always seems to be in flux.

At the 2013 Tour, I was at the summit of the savage climb of Mont Ventoux, on a baking hot day, trying to shelter from the sun under a small gazebo in the press area along with about twenty other reporters.…  Seguir leyendo »

The 2018 Winter Olympics Are Already Tainted

The International Olympic Committee may have suspended Russia’s team from the 2018 Winter Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea, over a system of doping. But the ruling — which allows Russian athletes to compete under a “neutral flag” — is a joke, a non-punitive punishment meant to save face while protecting the committee’s and Russia’s commercial and political interests.

I feel entitled to say this because I conducted the investigation on behalf of the World Anti-Doping Agency.

The 2016 report of the WADA investigation found that Russia operated a state-sponsored doping program on a level not seen since East Germany’s and, in the process, cheated hundreds of clean athletes of their rightful place on Olympic and World Championship pedestals.…  Seguir leyendo »

It’s always exciting when something goes right down to the wire. And for many of us, the race to re-edit Chris Froome’s Sports Personality of the Year segment in time for Sunday’s show is easily as gripping as anything the seemingly bent sport of cycling can offer.

Chris is in line for the big award, and though he is about as likely to trouble world heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua as Monaco’s Lewis Hamilton is, Froome is still obliged to appear for a sitdown interview, as well as star in some sort of year overview/training montage. Ideally one that doesn’t show a Brigitte Nielsen-style character lovingly administering his asthma inhaler, in homage to Rocky IV.…  Seguir leyendo »

In November 2015, I escaped Russia determined to tell the world about my country’s doping program for Olympic athletes. As the former director of Russia’s antidoping center, I disclosed indisputable evidence of widespread, state-sanctioned cheating by my country, hoping this would lead to change.

But the expectation I once had for meaningful reform is beginning to fade. In recent weeks, news reports have strongly suggested that the World Antidoping Agency is trying to find a way to walk away from the findings of its own independent investigator, who identified over 1,000 Russian athletes at the Sochi Games and in other competitions who might have used performance-enhancing drugs.…  Seguir leyendo »

How to Get Away With Doping

In 2004, I was in a French prison cell, arrested by a Paris drug squad on the order of an examining magistrate, a powerful official in the French criminal justice system. It was right that I should have been there: I had broken the law — as it turned out, not French law, but sporting law. I had taken performance-enhancing drugs and I had won some of the biggest races in the sport of cycling, including a World Championship title. I had cheated.

In those days, those of us who were doping considered ourselves above the law. It was the reign of Lance Armstrong, and not only was he treated like a king, but he also acted like one.…  Seguir leyendo »

A training session in January in Iten, Kenya. Simon Maina/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Typically, the Olympics make Kenyans giddy. The Games are a chance for us to come together and celebrate something that we can really be proud of. Never mind that I am decidedly not a good long-distance runner. Or short-distance runner. As a Kenyan, I get to bask in the glorious legacy that our runners have built, winning marathon after marathon from London to Boston, and medaling in most of the Olympics in recent memory.

In Rio this year, Kenya secured 13 medals: six gold, six silver and one bronze, making us the 15th highest-ranking country. But the sweetness of victory was tainted by our national Olympic committee’s spectacular mismanagement, which highlighted the growing menace of corruption not just in our sports but in our country at large.…  Seguir leyendo »

Por mucho tiempo, los deportes de élite y el dopaje han estado interrelacionados. Pero el concluyente informe de la Agencia Mundial Antidopaje (WADA) sobre el extendido programa de dopaje con apoyo del estado en Rusia, publicado poco antes de los Juegos Olímpicos de Rio de Janeiro este año, llevó el tema al primer plano de la atención pública. Deberíamos aprovechar la oportunidad para redoblar los esfuerzos por poner fin a esta práctica profundamente dañina, y salvar con ello a los deportes de élite.

Para lograr un nivel deportivo de élite se requiere una enorme cantidad de trabajo, dedicación y concentración. Por definición, son pocos los que lo logran, pero quienes lo hacen disfrutan de grandes recompensas personales y financieras.…  Seguir leyendo »

It was one of the most hotly anticipated events of the Rio Olympics — the men’s 4x100m freestyle relay, and the crowd was revved and ready Sunday night. A lot of competitive history was at stake.

So when the relay squads walked out, fans greeted them with all of the intensity that such a marquee event deserves.

Except for the Russians. When the Russians walked out, the thunderous cheers from the international crowd turned to jeers.

Suddenly, there was booing in the Olympic Games. And that’s rare. The global event traditionally sees fans adopting underdogs and cheering on the very last competitor to cross the line, rather than throwing shade in any direction.…  Seguir leyendo »

«Y así, por ambas partes, la verdad es acallada». Me sirven de excusa los versos de Shakespeare para hablar de Cervantes. Para dejarme guiar por las sabias reflexiones de un Quijote visionario -al que dicen loco- que comparte con tantos deportistas el anhelo de justicia allá donde estuviere. Y a pesar de que seamos nosotros quienes tengamos que decirnos al cuello de la camisa, no muy alto, para no enrojecer de vergüenza, «largo nos lo fiáis, amigo Sancho».

Se acaban de inaugurar unos Juegos Olímpicos que nos hacen a todos, a los que no competimos, citius, altius, fortius; porque somos nosotros, los ciudadanos de a pie, los que cosechamos en albardas propias el esfuerzo ajeno.…  Seguir leyendo »

Every Olympics seems to bring with it a doping scandal, and the Rio games are no different. Well before Friday’s opening ceremonies, state-sponsored doping in Russia, widespread doping on the Chinese swim team, and questions about a Rio drug-testing lab have renewed worries about whether a “clean” Olympics will ever be possible.

It might be tempting to throw up one’s hands and see these revelations as nothing more than the latest in a series of sordid stories about athletes seeking an edge. After all, pro sports from cycling to baseball are rife with similar tales of performance-enhancing substances. But the recent Olympic doping scandals are symptomatic of something more significant: the return of semi-rogue countries determined to bypass international norms and conventions in a systematic way not seen since the cold war.…  Seguir leyendo »

The Olympics are always complicated. As viewers, we want to believe the hype — we want to believe in the magic and innocence of the games. But we know there’s a dark side. The Olympics has never been just good, clean fun.

Think of the 1936 Berlin Olympics, documented by Hitler’s filmmaker, Leni Riefenstahl. African-American track star Jesse Owens won Olympic gold and glory but faced segregation back home — while World War II loomed on the horizon. Think of how hosting the 2004 Summer Games decimated the Greek economy, or how dissident artist Ai Weiwei helped design the stunning «Bird’s Nest» stadium for the 2008 Beijing Games before being arrested, or how just after the Sochi Olympics, Vladimir Putin nabbed a piece of Ukraine’s sovereign territory.…  Seguir leyendo »

And the yellow medal for cowardice goes to: the International Olympic Committee.

Quivering like a nervous gymnast on a beam, stumbling like a hurdler, sinking to the bottom like a diver, the IOC has squandered a golden opportunity to demonstrate its integrity to the world with its spineless decision not to ban Russia’s entire team from the Rio Olympics, which are to begin with opening ceremonies on August 5.

In so doing, these Games remain as mired in muck as much of the water off Rio’s coast.

Thomas Bach, a German lawyer who is president of the IOC, had described Russia’s blatant chicanery in a statement as «a shocking and unprecedented attack on the integrity of sport.»…  Seguir leyendo »

Podría parecer que el Comité Olímpico Internacional (COI) se ha lavado las manos con Rusia. Pero no tanto. Cierto que cada Federación Internacional tiene quince agónicos días -con las evidentes limitaciones que ello supone- para establecer qué atletas rusos pueden competir en Río y eso, en román paladino, significa que el astuto Comité le ha pasado a otros la patata caliente de enemistarse con el segundo país más laureado de la historia de los Juegos: 1.529 medallas en total; 1.010 como URSS, 407 como Rusia y 112 como Equipo Unificado.

Sin embargo, por mucho que se cuide de poner el cascabel al gato, Poncio Pilato no vive en Lausana.…  Seguir leyendo »

The latest allegations that Russia conducted a state-sponsored doping program raise questions about the meaning of the Olympic Games themselves. It is one thing for individuals to cheat to win an Olympic medal, but for a nation to do so is reprehensible.

The World Anti-Doping Agency has concluded that Russia’s corruption was an «unprecedented attack on sport and the Olympic Games.» If the accusations hold up, then the International Olympic Committee should ban Russia from not only the Olympic Games but also from international competition altogether.

Yet the IOC would be remiss if it only punished Russia. Doping has tainted sports in all countries and at all levels.…  Seguir leyendo »

Hace pocos días los Mossos detuvieron en Sabadell al entrenador somalí Jama Aden y a uno de sus fisioterapeutas. A mes y medio del inicio de los Juegos Olímpicos de Río, noticias antidopaje van a darse y muchas. La semana anterior, por ejemplo, se confirmó la exclusión de los atletas rusos del encuentro carioca.

Aun no siendo yo mismo deportista de élite, son curiosas la integridad, sinceridad y adecuación de las reglas antidopaje. Para empezar, el lema de Citior, altior, fortior (más rápido, más alto, más fuerte) resulta en sí mismo llamativo y deja en nada el buenista Lo importante es participar.…  Seguir leyendo »

In less than two months, I hope to be competing in the pole vault at the Olympic Games in Rio. This would be my fifth and final Olympics — a unique accomplishment for a woman, one that seemed just a faint dream when I started my career almost two decades ago.

But this dream may not be fulfilled. I and my fellow track and field athletes from Russia were suspended by the International Association of Athletics Federations (I.A.A.F.) from international competition, including possibly the Olympics, after the World Anti-Doping Agency confirmed allegations of state-sponsored doping by Russian athletes. On Friday, the I.A.A.F.…  Seguir leyendo »

An Olympic Antidoping Champion

The International Olympic Committee recently announced that 10 refugee athletes from troubled or war-torn nations would be allowed to compete in the summer Olympic Games. The committee believes that the group, officially known as the Refugee Olympic Team, will serve as a “symbol of hope” in Rio de Janeiro.

The I.O.C.’s action to field a refugee team is an example of the Games’ spirit at its best — using sport to transcend politics and promote human dignity. The decision also comes at a crucial moment when the Olympic movement’s fundamental values seem under attack. Few issues exemplify the crisis more than the allegations of state-supported doping in Russia.…  Seguir leyendo »

Trabajar de juez tiene que ser un marrón de cuidado. Debido a ese legítimo afán por mantener la proporcionalidad y el celo procesal incluso en episodios que no lo merecen, la Justicia hace piruetas caprichosas. Más aún, caprichudas.

En su sentencia de 89 folios, el juez Alejandro María Benito ha autorizado la entrega de las 211 bolsas de sangre y plasma requisadas en 2006 durante la Operación Puerto para identificar a los deportistas que se escondían bajo la manta del doctor Eufemiano Fuentes. El magistrado contempla los argumentos aportados por la fiscalía y por la acusación particular, y asume de algún modo el clamor social personificado en atletas como Jesús España -el último europeo que batió a Mo Farah en competición oficial antes de que Alberto Salazar le convirtiera en Mo Farah 3.0- y que recientemente promovió una iniciativa en…  Seguir leyendo »

Para quienes aman el juego limpio, descubrir el alcance del programa ruso de dopaje, respaldado por el Estado, ha sido una pesadilla hecha realidad. Informantes rusos han presentado pruebas de laboratorios no oficiales, alteraciones por parte de funcionarios de inteligencia del Estado y cambio de muestras en las olimpiadas. Eso supone una violación a la esencia del deporte y, a pocos días de los juegos de verano de Río, un ataque a los valores fundamentales del movimiento olímpico.

El escándalo comenzó con una investigación de la televisión alemana sobre el dopaje organizado de los atletas rusos, parcialmente, basada en los testimonios de dos valientes rusos, Vitaly Stepanov, un exfuncionario antidopaje, y su esposa, Yulia, corredora de media distancia.…  Seguir leyendo »