Michael Eriksson's Blog

A Swede in Germany

Follow-up: Further mistreatment of athletes / a call to revisit the illegality of large groups of drugs

with one comment

As a brief follow-up to a recent text around doping in sports:

Further controversy around the Meraf Bahta issue was caused by the Swedish federation allowing her to compete in the (just concluded) European Championships, under the assumption that she, possibly excepting incompetence, had done nothing wrong and had not* gained any artificial advantage.

*While someone who unknowingly uses some form of illegal drug can still have a such an advantage.

Through the course of the Championships, she won (with reservations for the ongoing disputes around her status) a bronze medal in the 10,000 meters, and chose to forego the 5,000 meters (and a presumed greater medal opportunity) based on the controversy, personal pressure, or whatnot.

In this situation, the sport and/or some individuals will lose, irrespective of what the eventual outcome of the investigations are:

Either Bahta is cleared, has lost her 5,000 meters chances for nothing, and the medals of that event have been devalued through the absence of one of the medal favorites; or she is suspended after the fact, and then the 10,000 meters has to be re-ordered, with a new Bronze medalist (who lost early positive publicity and whatnot), and the remaining risk that the results would have been different in other regards without Bahta (e.g. through changes to race tactics or coincidences).

I still, broadly speaking, support the Swedish federation, seeing that depriving Bahta of the chance to compete entirely would have been a greater injustice towards her. To boot if she eventually is cleared, we would now have two devalued events instead of one.

Instead, I see this a further indication that my general proposition (that the overall stance on doping in athletics should be changed) is the way to go.

(However, there might be other ways to at least reduce the secondary problems, e.g. in that there are internationally clear rules that an athlete is allowed to compete and gain preliminary results while investigations are pending—with no room for national decision making, criticism of the involved, or other possible sources of controversy. Alternatively, but less fairly, that such competition is forbidden by internationally clear rules.)

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Written by michaeleriksson

August 12, 2018 at 11:24 pm

One Response

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  1. […] Almost a year ago, I wrote about long-distance runner Meraf Bahta and the controversy that ensued after she failed to use a tool for tracking her whereabouts correctly—with not one shred of evidence that she had actually taken illegal drugs… (Cf. [1], [2].) […]


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