The world of sports continues to be roiled by scandal and corruption. It now appears a group of activist businessmen and women have decided to take up one aspect of the fight. Reports indicate a group including “a venture capitalist, a former United States federal prosecutor, and a four-time Olympic speed skating gold medalist from Norway” have formed a non-profit foundation, Fair Sport to provide “assistance with a range of services, including housing, criminal defense, immigration applications and psychological counseling” to help minimize the risk of whistleblowers who speak out.
This new foundation will work in conjunction with the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) to solicit tips, screen information and refer tipsters for further investigation. This initiative evolved from the experiences of “Yuliya and Vitaly Stepanov, a married couple who first spoke out about systematic doping in Russian track and field, and Grigory Rodchenkov, the former director of Russia’s national antidoping laboratory, whose tell-all account of Russia’s government-ordered cheating had major ramifications for Russia’s athletes and the global antidoping system.” All are now living in hiding in the United States.
This type of infrastructure will clearly work hand in glove with WADA to help clean up the doping issues in international sports. WADA was severely criticized in U.S. congressional hearings for failing to do more to support whistleblowers. This solution was conceived by Jim Swartz, a U.S. venture capitalist who was moved by the story of Dr. Rodchenkov. The longer-term plan for Fair Play is to develop relationships with national anti-doping authorities, other investigators, and similar like-minded individuals to help move forward the fight against doping in international sports events.
This type of market-based solution is one which has worked in the United States to drive compliance down supply and sales chains. With the creation of the Fair Sport foundation, sports doping whistleblowers may now begin to receive the support they need to continue to compete after they blow the whistle.