One Giant Step for Paralympics, One small step backwards for failed leadership

Aug 26, 2016
Tagged with: One Giant Step for Paralympics, One small step backwards for failed leadership

I am sure we are all familiar with what has been going on with the Russian delegation in what has become an unfortunate situation for athletes that have been banned from the Olympics and Paralympics. It is unfortunate for these particular athletes who have seemed to be involved in a situation that was out of control. Yet, out of this sadness, there will be victory for all Paralympians.

Recently, the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) has officially banned the entire 267 members of the Russian Paralympic delegation. This has come as a surprise since the International Olympic Committee (IOC) allowed about 271 Russian athletes to participate at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio. Now, there were some US Olympic swimmers who were not fond of allowing swimmers of the past to participate because they have at one time been found guilty of doping. I still remember US Swimmer Lilly King waving her finger at the Russiann swimmer who was allowed to participate by the IOC after having served suspensions for past doping convictions. Now what seems to be forgotten in all of this is that past convicted swimmers of doping are allowed to participate at the highest level. What does this say to you? To me it says that you can participate in illegal doping, get caught, serve a suspension and yet swim again at the highest level.  So, what does this say about some of these athletes? That they cheated. However, this is nothing new because some athletes have cheated in the past and will look for ways to push the illegal doping envelop. What this also says to me is that there is a failure in leadership.

Some athletes will always look for ways to improve themselves with performance enhancing drugs. They will always look for ways to push their bodies to a limit and then look to go beyond that limit. The only way this can be prevented is to stress the importance of not participating in illegal drugs and doping. All of the banned items are listed on the website of the World Anti Doping Association (WADA). It is the athlete’s responsibility to know this. It is the leadership of that particular sport to make sure that their athletes know what is banned. It is the failure of the leadership to not let them know of the consequence. Since all this information is easily attainable, it is then up to the leadership to come down hard and maybe even be unmerciful to the athlete. Despite their talent, real leadership lets the athlete know that illegal doping and illegal performance enhancing drugs will not be tolerated.

An example of questionable leadership would be the Russian OC and the IOC. The Russian leadership seems to have a total failure in direction. Unfortunately, the ones that have to pay are the Russian athletes that are doing it right and are clean. Unfortunately, what was also missed is the IOC leadership not following the advice of WADA and to suspend the entire Russian delegation for the Rio Olympics.

As an athlete that competed clean at the 2004 Paralympics I did everything to follow the letter of the law. I was even skeptical about drinking any sports drinks or eating sports bars. I just did not want to fail my teammates, my family, and my country. I did not want to be that athlete. Plus, our leadership was very proactive in making sure this was never an issue. The failure of this year’s IOC is that it did not enforce what every athlete, coach and sport organization always preaches that is to not fail a WADA test and to be involved in illegal doping. There were no excuses. It is totally the athletes fault if this happens.

However, in regards to the Russian delegation there seems to be a complete failure in leadership. For the IOC, it lost a chance to establish or enforce a no excuses policy for participating in illegal doping. Fortunately for the Paralympic athletes, the IPC has displayed that there is no issue in leadership. They have the back of the athletes. If you have failed WADA’s guidelines then you cannot participate at the 2016 Rio Paralympics. The IPC’s exclusion of the Russian delegation was a giant step to embrace the structure and leadership of WADA. The action of the IPC let’s all the world’s athletes, coaches, and organizations know that there are no excuses for participating in illegal performance enhancing drugs and doping. As an athlete that’s all I want to know. As an athlete, I should never have to question my leadership at this level. This is the true gold medal.

If you want to watch a sporting event where illegal performance enhancing drugs and doping is not tolerated, well turn in to the Paralympics on NBC from September 8-17, 2016.

Author: Bob Lujano



  • Phillip

    Good piece. I have found it interesting the number of athletes and people who have failed to understand that the reason the entire delegation was banned is because the system was so wide spread and state coordinated.

    One slight correction. It was Lilly King not Katie Ledecky that wagged her finger after beating the Russian.

  • bobl07

    Thank you Phillip!