The previous articles about Tramadol and Meldonium reinforce my view that WADA causes infinitely more damage to sport than doping use by athletes in itself. A good friend of mine who is in principle against doping said it concisely:
I can completely agree with your attack on WADA. For the Dutch site I also once made a contribution with my personal views on doping. Which is mild disapproval for the athletes. I think they should not use doping. Doping users are annoying, but doping hunters are much worse; they are criminals. They do not abide by common rules of law, they do not abide by rules about privacy, they are not able to define the concept of doping, and if they cannot get hold of someone they come up with something. (Contador, or the Russians).
Tramadol has already been on the monitor list for 10 years and there it remains without changing anything. Despite the irrefutable arguments that it improves performance, it is also a danger for users and their competitors. In cycling, therefore, it is believed that Tramadol is the cause of the increase in the number of crashes. And besides Tramadol is addictive. It seems logical that Tramadol for those reasons is contrary to the ethics of sport. Whatever that means. The fact that riders and team physicians advocating for years for a ban of Tramadol is completely ignored by WADA. The only thing that WADA wanted to reveal was that Tramadol ranks high on the monitor list. Who was it who complained about the arrogance of the WADA staff who impose their power from their ivory tower and do not make any effort to be transparent?
In 2009, after an announcement of WADA in October 2008, methylhexanamine was placed on the doping list. The first athlete who tested positive in 2009 was Clement Lhotellerie of Vacansoleil who handed in a positive urine sample after Liege Bastogne Liege. After Lhotellerie dozens of athletes all over the world were still caught on it. Methylhexanamine is a party drug which is taken to keep fit throughout the night to continue partying. It is a tool that stands between amphetamine and ephedrine. I know all this because I was team doctor of Vacansoleil. Interestingly, what then happened with methylhexanamine is now happening again with meldonium. So WADA knew very well what would be the consequence when they placed meldonium on the doping list in September 2015.
In August 2015, the German tv-channel ARD broadcast the second report of investigative journalist Hajo Seppelt about abuses in Russia relating to widespread doping with the knowledge of politicians, high government officials of the Russian athletics federation and the main leaders of the Russian Anti-Doping Agency. The first television broadcast took place in December 2014, the second followed in August 2015.
WADA INVESTIGATION COMMISSION UNDER DICK POUND
At that time WADA was fully informed of the Russian situations and responded -as always-appalled on the reports and took immediate action by setting up a so-called independent commission under the leadership of Dick Pound, WADA president himself for years. The mission of Pound was not particularly difficult because he could take all the relevant data out of Seppelt’s documentaries. So the pride with which WADA in November 2015 presented the report was entirely misplaced.
In addition, a word of thanks for Seppelt was completely missing and not surprising was the total absence of an excuse for their own failures. Because if Seppelt had not made these reports the abuses in Russia would have continued to the present day. What should be thought about the Russian whistleblowers who were turned away by WADA in 2013 and then end up at Seppelt who was really interested in their stories. And about the email Craig Reedie, chairman of WADA, sent to the president of the Russian Athletics Federation Vitaly Mutko, four months after the shocking ARD documentary, in-which he praises him for his fight against doping and he states that on the part of WADA `no intention exists to do something that could affect the relationship with the Russians adversely’.
Probably coincidentally meldonium was placed on the monitor list in 2015. Meldonium is only registered in Russia and can be used since 1990, so for 25 years without any problem, during sports. So all this time WADA has been sleeping and those nasty Russians have kept us fooled. At least if the WADA committee is right and meldonium is placed on the doping list on good grounds. And that is still very doubtful. Meldonium was found very often in 2015 in the urine of Russian athletes indeed. So meldonium scored high on the monitor list. But that’s an improper argument that should not weigh in deciding whether an agent belongs on the doping list. There are other criteria which are:
- Is the agent performance enhancing?
- Is the product harmful to health?
- Is the use of the product contrary to the ethics of sport?
It may or may not occur frequently in the monitor list but does not play any role in the placement of a product on the doping list.
Meldonium does not meet at all the abovementioned criteria. There is no evidence that the performance is positively influenced by meldonium. The harm to health is also negligible. Point three ‘In contrary to the ethics of sport’ seems far-fetched to me when an agent has been used for 25 years.
So in August 2015, all the above things were all mixed up and the criticism WADA had to endure was increasing. WADA already knew that the report of the Pound committee would give the Russians a heavy blow. To beat the Russians finally KO the decision was hastily made to place meldonium on the doping list. They would learn their lesson and they would think twice in the future if they start again widely disregarding the WADA rules. That plan was construed by WADA and was probably supported by the IOC. This whole set-up mainly fits WADA particularly well because it enabled them to nip in the bud in one fell swoop all the criticism and thereby it also made clear that their existence was more than justified.
All in all a brilliant plan of an organization that barely functions and needs a lot of money to get only one positive athlete.
But WADA has destroyed the Russian sport. And thus the life and reputation of hundreds of individual innocent athletes who cannot actually take any blame and who have no means to defend themselves.
Why should meldonium be considered as doping from 1 January?
Meldonium is prescribed for heart failure and it would also improve stamina. According to Harm Kuipers meldonium has already been on the radar of WADA for long. Tests showed that the drug was excessively widely used in recent years by Eastern European athletes. The WADA List Committee has evaluated that meldonium, as required, meets at least two of the three criteria. Those are:
- Does meldonium enhance performance?
- Is meldonium a health risk?
- Is the use of meldonium contrary to the ethics of sport?
Harm Kuipers has serious doubts about the efficacy of meldonium because hard evidence for this is completely missing. There are two studies on meldonium published in journals that are scientifically null and void. As a member of the WADA List Committee I would have called for a proper investigation into the functioning of meldonium while I would start an extensive information campaign to warn against the use of meldonium. But at this moment I consider placing meldonium on the doping list far too premature. According to Harm Kuipers meldonium came on the doping list on the basis of political considerations.
After reading the essential facts everyone can draw his own conclusions. My belief is that WADA is only concerned with its own image and with a continuous effort to make doping the greatest possible evil and for that all means are sanctified. That fight against doping, in which WADA plays an important role, is more harmful for sport than doping itself. The disaster for the Russian sports caused by WADA and the personal tragedy for all those individual athletes will have consequences for years.
It was Thomas Bach, the IOC President, who compared doping with the worst form of terrorism. The IOC is the founder and financier of WADA. Bach and Reedie are good friends. That predicts nothing good for the future of the sport.