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In an embarrassing move, the World Anti-Doping Agency prematurely pardoned Russia over the biggest doping scandal in sport, despite a lack of remorse or admission. There must be consequences, writes Joscha Weber.
A society has rules so that justice can prevail and all members have the same rights. Anyone who violates the rules of society will be punished and this punishment can only be shortened through cooperation and remorse.
This is how the rule of law works around the world and the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) also follows these principles. It sees itself as a "guardian of the values and spirit" of clean sport. As an "impartial, objective, balanced and transparent" watchman.
As a result, WADA is a guardian of probably the noblest sporting thought: fairness. But is the organisation living up to its claim?
Lack of transparency rewarded
WADA had initially suspended the Russian Anti-Doping Agency, RUSADA, for covering up systematic doping but surprisingly reversed the ban in September - subject to conditions. As Russia had refused to acknowledge the WADA investigators' report and denied WADA access to the controversial Moscow anti-doping laboratory's database, RUSADA had until the end of the year to do so.
But that didn't happen, as was expected. Now WADA boss Craig Reedie is "bitterly disappointed" by the Russians. He should also be disappointed in himself. That's because WADA is losing its good reputation. There was no need to lift Russia's suspension without the offender even expressing a hint of genuine remorse or, as required, full cooperation with investigators.
The data from the Moscow laboratory could have shed light on the extent of the institutional doping in Russia. Of course, it's precisely this information that Russia has been trying to suppress for years. It's a move that will have negative consequences for its athletes and also serves to intimidate whistleblowers. To reward this attitude with leniency was a huge mistake.
Take your own rules seriously
The criticism has been deafening. "Embarrassing," said the US anti-doping chief Travis Tygart, who convicted Lance Armstrong and believes WADA must "stop being played by the Russians".
Head of the German Olympic Sports Confederation Alfons Hörmann has warned that a "further loss of confidence" in WADA is "inevitable". While The Guardian's Marina Hyde wrote that Russia have once again left Reedie "looking the fool".
The critics are right, the international anti-doping body has had its pants pulled down. A major sporting power has been caught undertaking the biggest doping scandal in sports history and the World Anti-Doping Police have reacted with clemency and leniency. Really? WADA's behaviour is downright naive.
There is only one way out of this mess: WADA must turn around and suspend Russia's Anti-Doping Agency until its own rules are met. Because that's exactly what they're there for