A few weeks ago, I wrote about the nasty implications of the IHF decision to fire its respected Head of the Anti-Doping Unit, Professor Hans Holdhaus. Of course, there had never been any suggestions that Holdhaus did not have the necessary competence. On the contrary, he was in a sense doing his job too well, something that scared the IHF President. By that I mean that Professor Holdhaus had carefully and consistently followed the requirements of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) that all the affairs of an Anti-Doping Unit must be kept entirely separate and confidential in relation to its sports federation, in this case the IHF.
This is the type of requirement that is natural in all other federations but is too dangerous and unacceptable to a ‘control freak’ such as the IHF President. His despotic way of running the IHF requires full control over everything, as ‘he knows best’ and has the right to decide everything. It is one thing that the IHF Executive, the IHF Council and the global handball family amazingly tolerate this state of affairs in other matters, but in the area of anti-doping it simply must not happen. And this is not just a matter of principle.
As I mentioned in my previous article, it also has serious practical implications. A surprise test was announced at the start of the Pre-Olympic handball event prior to the Olympics in Athens, fully in accordance with WADA procedure but unbeknownst to the IHF President. The effect was that half of the Egyptian team was suddenly skipping the game, hiding in the stands, to avoid the risk of being tested!
In a ‘normal’ federation, the President goes out of his way to show that he is not influencing the Anti-Doping efforts and is unaware of its operations. In the IHF, the President has now gone out of his way to show that he does not care about WADA rules, he does not care about the image of the IHF, he does not care about the image of the IHF Anti-Doping Unit, and he does not care about how his own behavior appears to the rest of the world. Why do I say this?
Well, the IHF has just announced that as its new Head of Anti-Doping it has hired a compatriot of the President, a fellow-Egyptian. This is not to cast any shadow over this gentleman’s competence or honesty. But after the IHF President converted himself to a full-time employee with a constant presence at the IHF Office, and after he fired the previous IHF Managers to make room for his long-time Egyptian side-kick as the new Managing Director and controller of all the daily activities, he is now hiring an Egyptian as the person in charge of the most sensitive and supposedly most confidential position of the IHF.
How could anyone ever trust his motives for this decision? How could anyone have any doubts about the terrible image that this creates? How could anyone believe that the President is not simply doing this to show that ‘he does not really care what anyone else thinks’!