Nick Butler ©ITG

There was one dominant topic of conversation in the lobby of the freshly re-opened Hôtel Royal Savoy in Lausanne during last week’s SportAccord International Federations Forum.

Contentious as some of the proposals undoubtedly are, it wasn’t the future shape of SportAccord being debated, but the continued fallout from the World Anti-Doping Agency Independent Commission report which has stuck such a dagger into the heart of sport.

Virtually everyone admitted to being shocked by the scale of the findings, although I felt some were surprised more by what Richard Pound and his team had dared to publish rather than the allegations itself. A week on, it is clear that the 323-pages of evidence was a big blow, a powerful right hook which forced sports administration as we know it onto the ropes.

For all the preaching about the need for turning a corner, most of us are still to be convinced, for we have heard this supposed commitment to “good governance” and “zero tolerance” so many times before.

Leading officials vowing to make sweeping changes, while privately seething because they were not privy to the contents of the report; all the while plotting the course which least inhibits long-term political ambitions. Russians refusing to accept any wrongdoing, counter-attacking the West for leading a witch-hunt until Vladimir Putin - master politician as he is - magnanimously accepts enough blame to ensure a punishment lacking in too much severity. And athletes queueing up to lash out and list the medals and races they would have won, leaving us with sympathy but also suspicion as to whether they are even telling the truth.

Same old, same old, a formula dragged through the ringer after every major doping scandal since long before I took an interest.

The report from the World Anti-Doping Agency, implicating Russian athletes such as Mariya Savinova, is further eradicating our trust and faith in sport
The report from the World Anti-Doping Agency, implicating Russian athletes such as Mariya Savinova, is further eradicating our trust and faith in sport ©Getty Images

It is important we stay impartial as journalists. Yet even so, it was hard at times last week, and I found myself hoping Russia would get a half-decent ban, missing at least a few months before the inevitable “improvements” are made.

On Friday (November 13) evening I was at the cinema watching James Bond battle to foil a series of attacks targeting four different cities in Spectre, a movie with a plot almost as farcical as a state-run doping system.

As the credits roll, I immediately turn my phone back just to check the IAAF have not bottled it and the recommended suspension has been given. But instead I am confronted by something else. A series of dual attacks across Paris which suddenly leaves Spectre looking less far-fetched that I thought.

Innocent concert-goers trapped inside a building and mown down one by one; two bombs going off outside the Stade de France as a football international was playing; shooting after shooting in a list of heinous crimes leaving at least 129 dead and making the doping verdict comparatively insignificant.

Some people complained that we should not have mentioned how the Stade de France would be the home of a Paris 2024 Olympics and Paralympics in the second line of our story. That should be buried further down, they said, as sport here is far less important than everything else. Why is anyone even focussing on whether the England-France football friendly and other sporting events should go ahead at a time of great peril?

This argument is flawed, in my opinion, because sport was caught up in the conflict - as it invariably is.

The terrorists chose to target the Stade de France, just like the London bombings in 2005 were reportedly connected to the city being awarded the 2012 Olympics the previous day.

French and Germany fans spill onto the pitch followng explosions at the Stade de France which killed three people as Paris was hit by its worst attack since the end of World War Two
French and Germany fans spill onto the pitch followng explosions at the Stade de France which killed three people as Paris was hit by its worst attack since the end of World War Two ©AFP/Getty Images

So many sporting events have been affected by wars and conflict, from the boycotts of the Moscow and Los Angeles Olympics in 1980 and 1984 respectively which followed the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan to the horrific hostage takings at Munich 1972. On at least one occasion, between Honduras and El Salvador in 1969, a war has broken out directly because of tensions following a sports match.

On the other hand, sport can also build bridges and heal divides. The “Ping Pong Diplomacy”, leading to better relations between China and the West in the 1970s, and the Ireland rugby team, playing as one at the height of The Troubles.

It has quite rightly been pointed out that, while it is all very well singing Les Marseillaise and turning Facebook profiles red, white and blue, where was this reaction after the attack in Lebanon last week, and when bombs continue to hit Iraq and Syria on an almost daily basis? A fair point, albeit one that is fairly easy to answer from a British perspective due to our empathy and strong geographical and historical ties with Paris and the French.

But it is worth noting how it is sport which often shines a light on many of these conflicts. How else, for instance, would us disciples of the Olympic Movement know about Nagorno-Karabakh and the bitter dispute between Azerbaijan and Armenia? What else other than a Chinese Olympic bid would Tibetans use to showcase their sectarian struggle? What else do disputed and war-torn nations like Kosovo and South Sudan have to celebrate but sporting recognition?

Sport will always triumph, as it always has right back to World War One, where legend has it that British, French and German soldiers downed their weapons and marched out into No Man’s Land on Christmas Day in 1914 for a game of football in history’s most famous ceasefire.

The Christmas Day Truce in 1914, where British and German soldiers allegedly played football together, is one of history's best quoted examples of sport as a force for good ©Daily Mirror
The Christmas Day Truce in 1914, where British and German soldiers allegedly played football together, is one of history's best quoted examples of sport as a force for good ©Daily Mirror

It is so powerful because it is something different, something less meaningful and a break from work and the normal course of life. Or in this case, the horror of multiple murders on the streets of Paris.

Given this, does doping matter? With Russia’s sanction reduced in importance compared to a genuine tragedy, does its great power and attraction at a time of strife overcome the doping and corruption and other shortcomings?

Yes, to an extent, for people will always watch sport, and how many people have stopped watching football due to problems in FIFA?

But gradually, trust and support is being eroded, and for the Olympics it is becoming a real challenge. “If it’s not doping, it’s match-fixing,” many claim, with their belief that all those who run sport are crooks backed up by mounting evidence against two of its leading lieutenants in Sepp Blatter and Lamine Diack.

I am not for a moment comparing corruption in sport with terrorism, and I do have sympathy for administrators who must blend their hard-line response to Russian doping with pragmatism and realpolitik. But, with every scandal this is something to think about, and sport is facing a fight to retain its place as a shining light in a world which needs hope and heroes.

At the very least, it faces a fight to argue how events like the Olympics in cities like Paris remains necessary when it would pose such as increasingly obvious security risk.