When the World Anti-Doping Agency was established on November 10, 1999 it was seen as an innovative effort by the International Olympic Committee to further heightened the battle being waged within the IOC jurisdiction against those who were prepared to cheat to be successful.
WADA caught on better than most expected. While initially funded exclusively by the IOC, the impact of such a vital organization was such that around the world, nations bought into the fight against drugs and pledged annual fees.
Under Canadian Dick Pound, WADA quickly became the world’s strongest pillar in the war against doping in sports.
The effects have been far-reaching, outside of the boundary of the IOC. A case in point is professional boxing.
In late 2008, American Floyd Mayweather, considered widely as the best fighter in the world pound-for-pound, was challenged by another boxing sensation, Manny Pacquiao of the Philippines. Mayweather, the flamboyant but dynamic athlete/showman did not surprise the sports world when he agreed to meet Pacquiao. But there shock when he insisted on submitting to random drug testing conducted by the United States Anti-Doping Agency.
This was probably a deflating moment for Pacquiao but a huge blow thrown on behalf of the world anti-doping battle. With his demand, Mayweather proved beyond any doubt that he had a “Clean Sports” focus. The many instances of cheating that have been uncovered by WADA, the USADA and other bodies trying to discourage doping in sports have indicated clearly that the suspicion of chronic cheating in sports is justified.
Interestingly enough, Pacquiao has given a number of reasons thought to be lame ones, for not wanting to submit to random Olympic-style testing. Reportedly he has talked of a fear of needles, and being weakened by having blood taken close to a fight.
He’s afraid of needles?
Is he afraid of getting a tattoo?
How weak can one get from giving up a bit of blood for testing?
There are millions of boxing fans and others around the world who want to see the fight no matter whether there is random drug testing or not. The “Clean Sports” advocates though are cheering Mayweather for his wholesome position.
They might never fight and in that case we’ll never know who was better.
No doubt though, people will always wonder about Pacquiao. On the other hand, (although some grudgingly) many others will respect Mayweather for the stand he took.
The WADA message has thus reached across into the bedrock of professional sports.