It was, said one observer, a public execution.
The pummelling of Sir Craig Reedie, President of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), in Doha by some of those attending the Association of National Olympic Committees (ANOC) General Assembly was an example of Olympic politics at its most brutal.
I hope one day someone will explain to me how the kicking meted out to a man who has done plenty for the sports movement over the course of a long career made a vital contribution to the cause of clean sport.
It just serves to underline how protecting clean athletes - far from “an absolute priority for the entire Olympic Movement”, as stated by the most recent Olympic summit - remains at the mercy of power politics.
Sir Craig’s record over his three years in the WADA hot seat has not been perfect.
There was meldonium.
And, frankly, some cog in the WADA machine should have whirred into action to stop the body announcing the suspension of the Doha anti-doping laboratory’s accreditation just as Olympic bigwigs were flooding into the Qatari capital.
That was the last thing Sir Craig needed in current circumstances, and was high on the list of grievances aired by ANOC President Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Sabah when he waded into the attack.
Actually, though, it should be well within the rights of the properly independent anti-doping authority that WADA plainly is not, but that sport probably needs if it is ever to provide athletes with a true pharmacological level playing-field, to issue announcements as and when it chooses without people crying conspiracy at every turn.
Sir Craig’s real crime, of course, has been to sit at the top of an organisation that played an important part in exposing widespread doping among Russian athletes, as well as calling for a blanket Russian ban from the Rio 2016 Olympics and Paralympics in response to allegations of state-sponsored doping in the country, including at Sochi 2014.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) opted instead for something more akin to a case-by-case approach - I still think rightly - and the two bodies have appeared to be trading blows ever since.
Even so, Sir Craig only last week received the IOC’s backing to continue in his WADA post for a further three years.
So what happens next in the bleak soap opera that the fight against doping has become?
Well the first thing to point out is that the victim of Wednesday’s mugging has staggered away to tend to his wounds and has not, as I write, officially thrown in the towel.
He might yet seek and obtain a further three-year term at WADA meetings in Glasgow this weekend.
Even if he does, the atmosphere is likely to be very far removed from the triumphal homecoming that was presumably intended.
It might actually suit IOC President Thomas Bach to keep a weakened Sir Craig in situ (though if the 75-year-old Scot senses such an agenda, I suspect he may prefer to depart with head held reasonably high).
Two things prompt me to make this suggestion.
1. Unless this whole fiasco has been much more carefully planned than it appears from the outside, the WADA succession is very much up in the air.
There is currently no vice-president and, while the assumption seems to be that a Government representative would follow since Sir Craig is a member of the sports movement that is the agency’s other financier and stakeholder, WADA’s foundation document seems to me less than crystal clear on this point.
It says: "The Foundation Board is an equal partnership between the Olympic Movement and public authorities.
"To promote and preserve parity among the stakeholders, the Foundation Board will ensure that the position of chairman alternates between the Olympic Movement and public authorities, and that in particular this occurs after two three-year terms, unless no alternative nomination is made."
It is that "in particular" that set my legal lights flashing: this would be after just one three-year term.
Muddying the waters further, talk now seems to be circulating in the wake of Sheikh Ahmad's extraordinary intervention in Doha that a "neutral" WADA President may be sought and appointed.
One also gets the sense, however, that at least prior to Wednesday’s developments, this may have been an initiative under consideration for three years’ time rather than now.
2. A contrite WADA President might also enable Bach more easily to control the anti-doping reform process, which he appears to be trying to steer via the mechanism of Olympic Summit meetings.
I noticed that among those moved to react to Sir Craig’s Doha presentation was John Coates, the lawyerly Australian IOC vice-president.
"I think it is very important to note that you said that WADA is considering an IOC independent testing authority proposal,” Coates, a key Bach ally, observed.
"It was an Olympic Summit not an IOC proposal. I think the terminology [there] was a bit loose, Craig."
While Sir Craig, gentlemanly to a fault, conceded the point, by my reckoning 18 of the 22 individuals who participated in the last Olympic Summit in October were current, former or honorary IOC members.
While it is generally preferable to keep one’s terminology tight, to see it as anything other than a means of roping the wider Movement into supporting Bach’s plans strikes me as, um, wide of the mark.
One way in which Bach might lose control is if the perennially cash-strapped WADA’s financing arrangements were changed so as to channel a percentage of revenues from sports broadcasting contracts direct to the agency.
This would be a potential game-changer if the money were spent effectively.
Yet, as my colleague Michael Pavitt reported last month, Bach "indicated there would be no shift from the equal funding of the organisation", with a contribution from sponsors and broadcasters "not viewed as a solution to boosting funds".
A more likely plan seems to be to combine WADA’s budget with anti-doping expenditure currently undertaken by the international sports federations (IFs).
A new Association of Summer Olympic International Federations (ASOIF) report has conveniently quantified this at $27.68 million (£22.2 million/€25.8 million) in 2015.
As the report observes: "Interestingly, the total of the 28 ASOIF member IFs’ 2015 expenditure…is comparable to WADA’s own total operating expenditure of $29.28 million (£23.5 million/€27.3 million)."
If nothing else, the drama in Doha, rather like former SportAccord boss Marius Vizer’s famous speech last year in Sochi, has reminded us that a week can be, yes, a long time in sports politics.
If only said politics would stop getting in the way of the creation of an effective, fair and health-focused anti-doping system.