Uncle Volodya says, “Sports is like a war without the killing.”
On so many evenings in Moscow, when the working day is done and it’s Miller Time, and Vladimir Putin goes home to his disgustingly decadent Italianate palace, he must run up to his bedroom, throw himself upon his giant four-poster (caparisoned in black silk embroidered with the double-headed imperial eagle, £376.00 from Bespoke Bedlinens of London), and laugh until tears come to his eyes at the modern comedy which is human nature.
Oh, I was just kidding about the palace and the fancy bed; I made up the latter, and the former is a perennial fable from circus-clown fatboy and ‘Kremlin insider’ Stas Belkovsky. I personally doubt Mr. Putin needs the trappings of opulence to any significant degree – he rides a high every day of running the world’s biggest country, and diddling the west until it weeps angry tears of frustration.
Consider the classic example of the World Anti-Doping Agency’s (WADA) recent fall from grace. It went from thumping its chest and promising the McLaren Report would go through Russia like shit through buckwheat, harvesting government ministers as it went, to making excuses for the debacle whereby it had to admit there was not enough evidence contained in the report for individual prosecutions.
What a bitter pill that must have been to swallow. Note, please, the new appearance of terms like ‘alleged’ and ‘implicated’. Because it wasn’t always that way, was it? No, indeed; it wasn’t. Let’s recall WADA Director Sir Craig Reedie’s gloating tone in the agency’s statement which accompanied the release of the McLaren Report:
The Moscow laboratory operated, for the protection of doped Russian athletes, within a State-dictated failsafe system, described in the Report as the Disappearing Positive Methodology…The Sochi laboratory operated a unique sample swapping methodology to enable doped Russian athletes to compete at the Games…The Ministry of Sport directed, controlled and oversaw the manipulation of athletes’ analytical results and sample swapping, with the active participation and assistance of the Federal Security Service (FSB); the Center of Sports Preparation of National Teams of Russia (CSP); and, both Moscow and Sochi laboratories…Shamefully, the McLaren Report corroborates the allegations…
In fact, the McLaren Report does no such thing. It does make a lot of allegations, but it – embarrassingly – relied almost exclusively on ‘disclosures’ from nutball-for-hire Grigory Rodchenkov. Rodchenkov previously spent time in a mental institution, although that was quite possibly a dodge employed to avoid prosecution for involvement in a doping ring, and an investigation which netted his sister Marina.
McLaren claimed to have seen a demonstration of how the tamper-proof sample bottles could be opened, cleaned, refilled and resealed without breaking the cap or leaving any obvious sign of tampering. If he did, it was not to the very best of my knowledge ever repeated for experts in the field. FSB involvement was never substantiated by evidence, and Berlinger (manufacturer of the sample bottles) stood by their product in a statement issued following the release of the McLaren Report. It provided, in part;
In neither its own tests nor any tests conducted by the independent institute in Switzerland has any sealed Berlinger Special AG urine sample bottle proved possible to open.
The people who made the bottles and know them best say their experts and an independent testing entity could not get the sealed bottles open without either breaking the cap – which is designed to happen, verifying the bottle has been opened either by the testing agency, legitimately, or for potentially nefarious tampering with the contents – or showing obvious signs of damage. McLaren has not demonstrated his mystery method which he says convinced him it could be – and was – done, and I’m betting he never will. As so often occurs in sanctimonious western sermonizing on the subject of Russia and its myriad evils, it’s “I just know. Never mind how; just trust me”. Continue reading