Sports leaders need to stop talking and take action

Written by Gianni Merlo, AIPS President

At present, sport has two faces – the first is sweet, attractive and exudes the positive emotions of Olympic competition, while the other is cruel, wrinkled and repulsive, linked to the corruption of top officials and to doping scandals.

Now the public is bewildered – as we all are.

PASSION AND SINS The Olympic Games reawakened the passion in millions of people, with so many more young people going to stadiums and gyms and turning to sport. But, in the meantime, we’re bombarded by news of new scandals every day. Corruption at the highest levels in the IOC and the International Federations (with national federations also being anything but pure) holds centre stage. WADA, the World Anti-Doping Agency, delegated to keep sport clean, is in a storm and is trying to negotiate a way out of its current credibility crisis.

- Advertisement -

WHISTLEBLOWERS AND HACKERS At present, the world of sport seems to be in the hands whistleblowers (the new ‘in’ word at the moment) and hackers, who penetrate computers considered secure and make the private data of athletes public. It’s disconcerting, because now we doubt everything. Are we watching real sports spectacles or is everything already in the hands of criminal organisations that fix the results around a table? This is certainly over-exaggerating the matter but we’re moving towards this road. The lack of healthy, clean power opens not a road but a motorway to dishonesty which, will make cheaters feel as happy as pigs in the mud.

TRANSPARENCY What we have been hearing is: “We are working to bring the greatest transparency into the world of sports and sports management,” for years but, up until now, not even the smallest solution has been found. Is this because of a lack of will or inability? Having transparency in accounts and funds shouldn’t be so difficult – the word (good) governance is on everyone’s lips but it has almost become an excuse. Huge sums have been spent on conventions and discussions but the final solution is missing. Were the participants in those conventions all deaf?

NO CULTURE No, the reality is different. Economically speaking, the world of sport has grown in the last 30 years but not in terms of the social conscience of its key players, i.e. athletes and officials. The first level of sports organizations, the clubs, that are at the base of everything, have little interest in the life and management of the federations, all they want is the decent organisation of competitions, and this disinterest allows top executives to often manage their own affairs. Is there no control from the base at all and does this make us all accomplices in some way? It’s not easy to answer this question and to leave no doubt. Society needs to have a sort of revolution within itself, where it needs to put aside the fact that the world of sport is a happy island. We need to realise that the waters around it have been polluted, exactly like society, and that drastic, merciless action must be taken.

TITANIC For the time being, we only see summits, conventions and symposiums being organized – all choices that can only be useful if the participants and officials effectively want to change the current situation and not just put off the choices until the next appointment … This is an attitude that has now become the norm, sport is sinking like the Titanic while officials still seem to be distracted by the band.

Also read: Elements for a solution to doping in the Olympics and paddlesports

- Advertisement -