Athletes Should Boycott World Championships To “Clean Up Doping Scene” – John Leonard

Athlete Boycott
FINA Executive Director Cornel Marculescu, President Dr. Julio Maglione

Commentary by John Leonard, Executive Director for the American Swimming Coaches Association

Dr. Julio Maglione assures the world that FINA is “at the forefront of anti-doping.”

I believe the resignation of the three most important members of the FINA Anti-Doping Board demonstrates conclusively that FINA and the IOC are running an elaborate public relations scheme designed to fool the world into thinking they actually CARE about Anti-Doping, when all they care about in reality, is the flow of cash into their organizations, earned on the back of athletes predominately clean but some “dirty with doping” receiving a pittance for their labor.

The Athletes Need to Rebel and refuse to participate until the doping mess is cleaned up with a renewed WADA in charge, led by someone like Travis Tygert with an impeccable reputation and history, and NO conflict of interest with the IOC or anyone else.

We have been told for decades now the “Boycott” is a “dirty word: and especially, told that “boycotts only hurt athletes.”

Absolute nonsense. The boycotts of 1980 and 1984 were government led and intended to produce political ends. They failed miserably and the athletes were indeed the only ones to suffer, because concerns of the athletes played no part in the government mandated boycotts.

The reality is, boycott is the only way that major change in sport and swimming can happen, as has been true throughout history in every walk of life. CLEAN ATHLETES are being destroyed now, by the scourge of doping. IF they refuse to participate, the television money that comes to the IOC and FINA (World Championships) will immediately cease and the IOC and FINA “Circus” will stop  And both organizations will come immediately to their knees. Without the athletes on whose backs both organizations ride, the Circus STOPS, as does the flow of cash to both organizations.

Those from FINA and the IOC who repeat their Mantra that “boycotts only hurt the athletes”, LIE as part of their public relations campaign. A boycott by the athletes would be devastating to the OWNERS of the Circus, the IOC and FINA. They would be immediately forced to clean up the doping scene, which IS possible, using modern testing methods. (High Throughput testing.) “

All commentaries are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Swimming World Magazine nor its staff.

In related stories:  Listen to Shirely Babashoff talk about the IOC and its history of not dealing with the doping issue.

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7 years ago

I’m not sure that I agree that a boycott would be effective. While I doubt it would ever be done by more than a few athletes, even if it was the result would likely just be a summit where everyone agreed to push harder to get rid of PEDs in the sport, but little change would actually happen.

What I think needs to be done is that the majority of the countries in the world need to form a new international swimming federation, and stop recognizing FINA. What confuses me is why federations like USA Swimming have so steadfastly supported FINA through all of this. I thought that the US really cared about the doping issue. I also would’ve thought that some of the incredibly embarrassing exchanges of money with FINA would’ve been enough to make federations like USA Swimming stand up for what is right.

Klaas Faber
7 years ago

“They would be immediately forced to clean up the doping scene, which IS possible, using modern testing methods. (High Throughput testing.) ”

Yes, let’s have a boycott and let’s see what so-called high-throughput testing will bring.

My guess: nothing tangible. Just a few more scapegoats.

Unfortunately I’m a scientist and John Leonard is a believer.

7 years ago

Oh, how very noble of Mr Leonard !! Another paen of purple prose calling for sacrifice from others …….. please answer me, Mr Leonard; just will such a move cost YOU ?? Are any of YOUR swimmers going to realistically be impacted by this ??

If indeed this IS the case, Mr Leonard, then I will readily withdraw those lines directly above. If it is not the case, then your noble call to arms merely reminds me of what was said about General “Blood and Guts” Patton by his soldiers …… his guts OUR blood.

Does the current FINA regime deserve to fall …. certainly. Is the entity itself salvagable …. open to speculation but the same can be said for a very large number of international/Olympic sports.

In all honesty, its not going to be a quick process; Indeed, we haven’t seen the full fall-out out of the McLaren Report. Whilst there are a number of things individual sports can do with regards to governance and reform; much (especially on the wider & anti-doping front) will be contingent on the global picture and what progress is made there.

Rio wasnt, at least on the surface, the disaster many feared but the future of the Olympics IS certainly still open to question. Furthermore, the overwhelming bulk of national sporting federations will be inwardly focussed for at least the next 12 months ……. in most cases this is necessity driven. Either they will be concentrated on post Olympic post mortems/future planning AND/OR fighting like hell to retain their shares of public funding where in most cases, the public “tap” is going to be decreasing.

How long this actually takes to play out is anyone’s guess …….. and I don’t think our Mr Leonard could answer that. Lets just see how all the cards fall with regards to McLaren and who gets implicated should the Russians and others decide to “spill”.

7 years ago

I wonder if John Leonard would feel the same way if he was an elite athlete and 2020 was their ONLY shot to make the Olympic team? Ask any of the 1980 if they would support a boycott again?

Klaas Faber
7 years ago


WADA published a report in 2013:

Not a single mention was made in this document of so-called high-throughput testing. Why not? This technique would have solved the evergreen false-negative problem according to Mr Leonard.

A true deus ex machina for a change.

Never mind that the original report was published half a year earlier than the date currently found on WADA’s site. Should I check for changes in the content being made accessible?

The McLaren report had a part that is no longer present in the newest version currently on WADA’s site. Without indicating that ‘change’.


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