Gerrard Down Under

Our previous Swimwatch post discussed the involvement of the Swimming New Zealand (SNZ) President, Dr Dave Gerrard, in the chaos that is the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA). It seems that I wrote the post a day too soon. Today Swimvortex has posted a story that points to stunning corruption in the halls of the drug agency. If half of this is true, the continued involvement of the SNZ President in WADA should disqualify him from any position in New Zealand sport.

You may be asking what has WADA done to merit such contempt. Well the movement to reform WADA is being led by a Norwegian politician called Linda Helleland. In December 2016 Helleland was elected Vice President of WADA. Relevant to this story is the fact that Helleland is only 41 years old.

Compared to many members of the WADA bureaucracy 41 is very young indeed. The Chairman Sir Craig Reedie is 77. Mr Ugur Erdener is 68. Mr Francesco Ricci Bitti is 76. And, of course Dave Gerrard is 73. It might be slightly unkind but it seems that with the exception of Linda Helleland WADA is a cosy number for a bunch of old buggers. It also seems that the old buggers don’t approve of Helleland’s reforming zeal.

Because reports from WADA in the past couple of days suggest that the old buggers are turning nasty. According to the report on Swimvortex, the WADA Executive Committee is pushing to change WADA’s eligibility rules. They want to lower the minimum age for the Presidency to 45 and introduce a minimum education requirement of a Master’s degree. Anyone below 45 without a Master’s degree would be excluded from standing for election as President.

Here is the link to the Swimvortex Facebook article –

Clearly the changes are designed to prevent Linda Helleland challenging for the Presidency. She is underage and only has a Batchelor’s degree. I don’t know how some people sleep at night. Can you imagine anything more dictatorial, anything less democratic? The whole scheme is disgusting. If Dave Gerrard has been at all complicit in hatching that scheme he should be ashamed. Mind you I suspect it’s the sort of thing Miskimmin would enjoy. He imposed equally anti-democratic rules on Swimming New Zealand. Perhaps Gerrard is following the example of our esteemed leader.

There is however one New Zealand leader Gerrard has obviously ignored. The New Zealand Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, is 38 years old and “only” has a BSC degree. She is old enough and educated enough to be Prime Minister of New Zealand but falls short of the standards required to be President of WADA. She seems to be doing a good job of running the country but is not good enough for Gerrard and his elderly mates. Ironically WADA’s head office is in Canada. The Prime Minister of that country, Justin Trudeau, is 46 and has a Batchelor’s degree. So he just makes the age cut but fails to meet the education standard. He can provide WADA with a home but isn’t good enough to be their President.

Other world leaders who have led their countries before their 45th birthday include David Cameron and Tony Blair from the UK, Viktor Orban from Hungary, Charles Michel from Belgium, Julie Ratas from Estonia, Alexis Tsipras from Greece, Youssef Chahed from Tunisia, Andrzej Duda from Poland, Matteo Renzi from Italy and John F Kennedy and Theodore Roosevelt from the United States  World history makes WADA look ridiculous. They are ridiculous.   

The whole thing is a clear and obvious attempt by the WADA old farts to maintain their cushy number. If they are up to trying these sorts of tricks inside their own organisation, can they be trusted to police the sordid world of state-sponsored doping? Of course they can’t.

But the rule changes do not stop at those two beauties. There is a third proposal. This is how that rule change is described by Swimvortex.

We understand that the proposed code of conduct rules to be presented at WADA’s Board Meeting in Baku require Presidential candidates to exercise self-restraint when speaking to media, including on social media, and to also conduct their campaigns with dignity and moderation.

While we all want debate surrounding the future of the WADA-led anti-doping system to be dignified, we believe that this rule – which is wholly subjective and open to interpretation – would essentially “muzzle” candidates that hold different views and positions than the WADA status quo. This change, combined with the suggestion that candidates should be “restrained” with media – including, oddly, on social media – appears to be a clear and blatant attempt to stifle free-speech, or opinions that may differ from the current WADA leadership, and interestingly, comes at a time when the world is calling out for radical change from the WADA status quo.

I would imagine most of us, reading that, would be disturbed at the effort to curb free speech. However autocrats, interested in protecting their patch do this sort of thing all the time. Trump calls free and open discussion “the enemy of the people”. So it seems does WADA. Swimming New Zealand already includes two WADA style rules in their Code of Conduct that say:

“To not provide comment to any media on behalf of Swimming New Zealand.

To not speak to any media in a negative way regarding Swimming New Zealand.”

Both rules are ridiculous and probably illegal. If Dave Gerrard has, in anyway, been involved in similar rule changes in WADA he has no place in being President of Swimming New Zealand. If he has been silent about rule changes, that are clearly a desperate effort to cling onto power, he should leave sport in New Zealand to others. Several recent Swimwatch posts have discussed corruption in New Zealand sport. The chaos at WADA has a direct affect on New Zealand sport. Dave Gerrard could be bringing the corruption of the international organisation far too close to New Zealand for my liking.

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