Original publication: December 2015
Author: David Walsh
Short link to this post: http://bit.ly/2FedL8A

Executive Summary

The author describes his progress from sports enthusiast to sceptic following repeated  experiences, as a journalist, of frauds in high-level sports including athletics and swimming but especially cycling. These frauds involved performance-enhancing drugs and medical procedures and Walsh took the lead in exposing Lance Armstrong as a key beneficiary. The importance of asking the ‘obvious question’ to get to the truth is emphasised. Walsh stresses the role played by elected representatives and governments in a world where the governing bodies of sports have often proven inadequate to the task of maintaining fair play and good governance. In the case of cycling, and FIFA in football, it was government that initiated definitive action against fraud. Walsh argues that the nominees of governments to the presidency of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) are the most effective. Walsh hopes, but is not optimistic, that a WADA investigation of doping will lead to the suspension from Olympic competition of any guilty national athletics federations, not just individual athletes. He further argues that doping in sport is a very high value fraud that governments should make a criminal offence. Finally, Walsh explains that he remains an enthusiast for sport – his scepticism is reserved for elite sports and the focus on hosting high profile events and increasing national medal tallies. He feels that this elite focus does not lead to any improvement in sport participation – even the contrary – and that getting people active should be the political priority, especially young people and those in socially-deprived areas where participation is lowest.

 

Introduction by the Policy Department

Mr Walsh is an award-winning sports journalist with a long track-record in directly addressing issues of fair play and good governance in sport. Most notably, perhaps, he raised difficult questions regarding the career of Lance Armstrong at the height of his fame, when others in the mainstream media and in sports governance were silent. (A story now portrayed in the film ‘The Program’, directed by Stephen Frears).

He is Chief Sports Writer of the Sunday Times (London) and, as such, a long-standing member of a team that has been at the forefront in exposure of doping issues and of alleged corruption in FIFA. Mr Walsh was invited to prepare a presentation to the Committee based on his significant experience and to give a personal and professional view of how the issues of fair play and good governance could be tackled.

Mr Walsh’s original presentation can be viewed online in the Committee on Culture & Education web streaming. Link below, with Mr Walsh’s contribution beginning at 16:07:45

Link to the full study: http://bit.ly/563-419

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