Editorial: Rotten Bureaucrats Rule over Indonesia’s Sports, Sacrificing Athletes and Nation

3 min read

Having joyously watched their beloved Thomas Cup team dominating and defeating archrival China and winning back the championship after waiting for almost two decades to lift the trophy, Indonesians are in state of shock realizing that their red and white flag was nowhere to be seen.

Later on after they were informed that their flag was prohibited to fly in any international events, except in Olympics and Paralympics, because the country was declared on October 6 by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) as non-compliant, they expressed anger and disappointment.

The sanctions will apply for a one-year period, or until Indonesia can prove that it has complied with WADA’s regulations.

The Thomas Cup victory should have been one of the proudest moments for Indonesians, but instead becoming moment of grievance and humiliation after they also found out that Indonesia has been banned from hosting any global, international and regional sports event because Indonesians sports officials failed to submit laboratory tests of samples of the nation’s athletes to the world’s anti-doping organization.

Indonesian badminton legend Taufik Hidayat took the matter to twitter, and tweeting: “…what is wrong with our government? Especially, Menpora (the youth and sports minister), KONI (Indonesian Sports Committee), and KOI (Indonesian Olympics Committee)? You only bring humiliation to Indonesia…”

The prospect of Indonesia not being able to host series of sports events in the next one year has also been met with outburst from many Indonesians.

Indonesia is slated to host at least six international events this year. Among others are globally regarded badminton championship: Indonesia Masters, Indonesia Open and BWF Tour Final. These three events are all very prestigious and have lifted Indonesia as a badminton powerhouse globally. Especially after winning the Thomas Cup, Indonesians are in badminton fever, and will be crushed if they can’t watch their hero directly.

The ban will not only badly hurt Indonesia’s reputation but also dampen enthusiasm of players, supporters and sponsors, causing not only slash of income but also a hit against Indonesia international sports achievement.

Beside badminton events, Indonesia will also be hosting Asian Baskelball Championship, Asian Female Football Cup and World Superbike Championship in Mandalika Beach in Lombok, West Nusa Tenggara.

Such a high price to pay is caused by lazy, incompetent and corrupt Indonesia’s sports officials who continue to find excuses for their failure.

In a time when everything is scrutinized and violation of anti-doping is considered a humiliation and has destroyed life and career of world class athletes, such a WADA sanction is not only unfair to Indonesian athletes who have nothing to do with it, it also hurt their reputation and Indonesia’s standing internationally.

WADA has advised and then warned Indonesia for years to comply with its regulations. Rather than following Indonesian officials seemed to always find an excuse to avoid their responsibility, peaking in WADA’s October 6 declaration that Indonesia has not complied with its request.

Back in January 2017 then youth and sports minister and now corruption convict, Imam Nahrawi, for instance, complained the high cost of doping test for athletes, asking Indonesia’s anti-doping organization (LADI) to negotiate the cost for the test.

He complained that the cost of Rp 15 million (US$1,100) per a sample was too much because WADA asked each country to test 3000 athletes per year. He then questioned how the nation can pay the cost.

However, money is actually not a problem because later on Imam Nahrawi was convicted of receiving 26.5 billion rupiahs in mega corruption scandal in his ministry.

With the ministry getting Rp 2,3 trillion from the state budget this year, paying Rp 45 billion annually should not have been a problem if the fund had been used properly and not stolen by officials.

The ministry has been marred by series of corruption. Two of its last ministers, Andi Mallarangeng and Imam Nahrawi have been jailed for corruption.  The corruption cases have also been investigated at the Indonesian Sports Committee (KONI) and a number of specific sports associations, such as the Indonesian Football Association.

The high cost for processing samples of the athletes has been caused by the ridiculous fact that Indonesia does not have adequate equipment and laboratory to have the samples tested domestically. All samples must be sent to Thailand or India. Actually, with Rp 2.3 trillion it’s getting from the state budget annually, the ministry could have bought technology and built laboratory domestically. But it’s just incomprehensible that the country has been failing to do so despite its strategic function and benefits.

Despite such rotten and incompetent sports officials, Indonesian athletes have continued to fight for high achievement in whatever sports they in. In the recent Olympics, for instance, Indonesia managed to get 1 gold medal, 1 silver medal and 3 bronze medals.

The ability to beat China and take Thomas Cup trophy back home is a proof that Indonesian athletes have continue to fight and perform well for their country and nation.

Rather than quickly conform to WADA’s demand Sports Minister Zainudin Amali continues to find excuses, blaming the Covid-19 pandemic for the country’s failure to comply.

He also hit back at WADA, arguing that the sanctions should not have been applied at the Thomas Cup while the issue was still being clarified.

But such an argumentation seems to just an act to save face because if the minister and his staff and those officials at the Indonesian Anti-Doping Agency (LADI) have been serious and worked hard enough, they could have sent sample of Indonesian athletes, or at least should have shown their good faith to the WADA that they meant business. Attention and seriousness will have moved the world’s anti-doping agency to give time to Indonesia, and the incident at Thomas Cup would not have happened.

Indonesia’s sports officials are so rotten that Indonesia’s own anti-doping agency (LADI) in as far as doping test is concerned, for instance, has no credibility in the eyes of WADA.

With this in mind, will Indonesia allow their committed athletes to be continually sacrificed by incompetent and corrupt officials? Will Indonesia allow itself to be embarrassed by these rotten bureaucrats who are so greedy that they can’t see they have humiliated and betrayed their own country?

Editorial Omong-Omong

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