By David Bryan
23“ Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. 24 As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand talents was brought to him. 25 Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt.
26 ”The servant fell on his knees before him. ‘Be patient with me,’ he begged, ‘and I will pay back everything.’ 27 The servant’s master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go.
28 “But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii. He grabbed him and began to choke him. ‘Payback what you owe me!”he demanded.
29 “His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him,’Be patient with me, and I will pay you back.’
30 “But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt. 31 When the other servants saw what happened, they were greatly distressed and went and told their master everything that had happened.
32 “Then the master called the servant in. ’You wicked servant’, he said, ‘I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. 33 Should’nt you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you? 34 In anger his master turned him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed.
35 “This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart.”
Matthew 18:23-35 (New International Version)
From time immemorial, the human spirit and will has always been motivated to break barriers. The Olympic competition in the days of the Greeks encapsulated this central attribute, coded in man’s DNA: “to the victor the spoils”. The games harnessed this instinctive energy and propelled athletes to become highly motivated in order to be the elite of the elite in their respective disciplines, albeit, on equal footing, in the quest for victory, gold and glory.
Unfortunately, the clean can be soiled with the dirty; by unscrupulous individuals seeking an unfair advantage, who have no difficulty in tipping the balance in their favour by wide margins- by indulging in the practice of enhancing their performance through illegal undetectable substances whether by externally assisted sources or by self- induction.
This corrupt philosophy of winning at all cost cannot be embraced and is rightfully struck down by the world’s sporting governing and anti-doping body of firstly those athletes who are caught cheating the system and secondly those countries who condone such abuse by usurping the principles of fairness through mass colluding, aiding and abetting in the doping of its athletes.
The extra-ordinary step therefore taken by WADA and the IAAF to ban Russia as a nation from competing was justified in the circumstances; the question is whether the ban should be extended thereby inflicting undue hardship upon Russian athletes by foregoing the Rio Olympic Games?
The law of collective responsibility must be always applied sparingly and only in extenuating circumstances, in those situations predicated by extreme acts as was done in the case of Russia. Such application must never be indefinite and should be tempered by measured approaches. The test for removal is objective in nature and not based on tearful sorrow but a true sense of penitence for real reformation.
The ‘reformation test’ cannot be carried out in isolation it must go hand in hand with the maxim” the punishment must fit the crime”; taking into account the time already served- the initial time from the day the accused was sentenced including up until the last day of his incarceration or isolation as in this instant.
Ancillary, the question whether Russia has implemented structural reform in its laboratory and doping program is fundamental to the first question. Given the short period, this question may be problematic to answer, but on the face of it, the preponderance of evidence and facts suggest the presumption of attempts to co-operate, reform and streamline its athletic program.
It is, however, still too early to arrive at any concrete definitive answers of the long term impact of Russia producing ‘clean’ athletes. Sufficient to add, democratic societies who not only recognize but uphold the rule of law in practice understand the principle, second chances are earned, whether or not one believes they deserve it.
The primary role of WADA and the IAAF is to govern and enforce the rules, regulations and protocols of those to which they are responsible. The Olympic games was incorporated for all nations and kingdoms’ premium competitors and to prevent the participation of one nations entire athletic force would therefore be deemed an injustice, given the fact the games are organized every four years; Russia has attempted to make significant attempts to clean up its sport which is different from its image and has already served a punishment befitting the crime.
This second breath should be seen as ‘probationary’ with stringent imposition of relevant protocols and conditions for testing of athletes to be established before, during and after the games in order to keep them clean and mitigate the effects of illegal doping in sport by nations.