By Tony Attwood
The World Anti-Doping Agency is normally considered (at least in my house) to be one of the good parts of sport, particularly in taking on the old-chums act that is the IAAF, the world athletics body. Wada are the guys who have taken on Putin and Russia for its wholesale misuse of drugs and by and large seem to leave few stones unturned.
So the suggestion today that Uefa is questioning Wada’s competence is just so astounding that I really felt the need to raise the profile of what is going on.
Now in doing this I am taking a bit of a gamble, because the story has only just broken, and there might be something lurking in the shadows I have missed. So please don’t laugh too loudly if I have got this wrong, but this is what we have so far.
The Liverpool player Mamadou Sakho failed a drugs test and was temporarily suspended. Now that suspension has been lifted.
The explanation is that Uefa say they are launching their own investigation into whether the fat-burning substance the player has been shown to have taken should be on the banned list.
The implication of this is massive, for it means that instead of the Wada list being inviolable, and punishment automatic for anyone caught out, now Uefa, totally on its own, is doing its own investigation into the drug, and could well come up with the notion that there is nothing wrong with the drug vis a vis a sports person taking it.
It would then mean there is one list of banned substances for every other sport played internationally, and another one for European football.
Emphasising what it is doing, Uefa has said, “The player would thus be free to play as from tomorrow. A decision on the case will be made within the next few days.”
If this case continues down the route now set by Uefa, it means that every drugs cheat is free to use the “it shouldn’t be on the banned list” argument to get back onto the pitch quickly. So not only will we not have a system in which clubs are not criticised or punished if one of their players cheats, now we have a situation in which European football on its own, can step aside from all the rest of world sport, and say, “we don’t like your drugs rules.”
I have come across Uefa doing some very odd things over the years, but I think stepping outside of Wada’s list of banned substances it going to take football beyond the pale. I certainly can’t imagine Wada taking this lying down, and it could well start to retaliate if this move by Uefa continues.
We shall see how the story unfolds.
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