Sport Ireland's anti-doping unit is led by Dr. Una May. She "calls it as it is". By this I mean she describes things as they actually are and sticks to the facts. Too often the phrases "calls it as it is" is used to refer to someone who mouths-off some controversial line based on some distorted reading of the facts. Dr May is not like this. It is a pleasure to hear her talk on the subject. Her interviews generate more light than heat. It is worth listening carefully to a radio interview from this morning (here). To illustrate, listen to the part where the interviewer suggests that the procedures can be brought to a speed conclusion because the Irish boxer admitted to taking an inappropriate supplement (9mins into the interview). It may seem pedantic but it is actually precision. She helps us distinguish between the various shades of grey.
Later in the interview she explained the tension between the disappointment of finding an Irish athlete with a positive result against the way it might signal that the anti-doping programme is working.
Not everyone appreciates this style. Too often we are presented with words designed to provoke an emotional response. For example, over the last three days, many media outlets aired/printed extracts from the Irish Martial Arts Commission's views on Mixed Martial Arts. Words like "pornographic", "sadistic", and "voyeuristic" were used. The views arose out of the death of a fighter in Dublin earlier this year (see previous blog post here). Joao Carvalho lost his life after that fight. Before the fight his opponent tended to be referred to as Charlie "Hospital" Ward. Since the fight most reports have had the good grace to drop the "Hospital" tag. However, the description of MMA reported over the last three days will do little to help the regulation of the activity or the discussion on whether or not it is a sport. The reaction of the Irish Martial Arts Commission presents the Minister for Sport and his colleagues with a problem. If Mixed Martial Arts is not a sport then what is it?