Bronte Campbell: If Olympics Is About Inspiration & Fairness We Have To Talk About Doping

Bronte Campbell - Photo Courtesy: Becca Wyant

Bronte Campbell, the double World sprint freestyle champion of 2015, has urged all Australians to engage in talk about doping without “fear [of] tarnishing the Olympics” because “it was already corrupted”.

Australia and London Roar Pro-team ace, Campbell concludes a commentary in the Courier Mail today with the words: “… tedious as it is and as much as my heart sinks when I see another headline with the word doping, I’m also hopeful with each headline that we inch closer to real and lasting change.”

Towards the end of a two-year period in which the athlete voice has got ever louder, the Australian sprinter says the time for feeling helpless in the face off cheating is over.

Campbell reminds Courier Mail​ readers under the headline “Why we have to talk about Olympic doping” that this week the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) compliance review committee proposed banning Russia from international competition for the next four years over the manipulation of alarming numbers of doping samples. Writes Campbell:

“If 2016 is anything to go by, this is just the start of a messy conversation we’re all about to have about doping. I’m sure it’s not the conversation most people want to have – the Olympics should be about inspiration, not iniquity. We should be able to point to the Olympic ideals as motivation to strive and be better. Instead we’re talking about drugs.

But this is a vital conversation regardless.”

She looks back at the podium protest of teammate Mack Horton in the face of the latest controversy to involve Chinese swimmer Sun Yang and notes that she is often asked “what did he hope to achieve?”

In her explanation, Campbell notes that “for the people whom the conversation affects, there’s a sense of validation” in talking about the issue and keeping that conversation going on a matter that taints the Olympic Movement.

She writes about the sense of helplessness she has felt when it comes to being in a position to do “anything about it”:

“Doping is not new to the Olympics. For years rumours and speculation have been passed between athletes in a depressing game of “have you heard”. I always hated these stories, they left me with a sense of helplessness. Whether it was true or not that a whole truckload of samples went missing was almost beside the point. The pervading sentiment was that we couldn’t do anything about it.”


Bronte Campbell on why we have to talk about doping – Photo Courtesy: Courier Mail Online

Talking about it openly and seeing the word “doping” in headlines shines an essential “light on something sordid that already exists”. She adds:

“We shouldn’t fear tarnishing the Olympics – it was already corrupted, we are only beginning to examine the black spots. And it will take a lot of polishing to get the silverware shining again.”

Campbell notes that a decision on Sun is expected in early 2020 after a public hearing that stood in stark contrast to his 2014 “doping ban, which was issued and served before anyone found out about it”.

Campbell concludes:

“The Olympics should be about inspiration and fairness, this messy conversation is part of keeping it that way.”

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