Kiwi Olympic athlete asks winners to Stand Down from dais if they receive medal to protest against cheats
Today, Moss Burmester officially launched a campaign.
Retired New Zealand Olympic swimmer Moss Burmester is asking clean athletes at the upcoming games to protest the International Olympics Committee (IOC) decision to not blanket ban Team Russia by choosing to #StandDown from the dais to receive their medal.
Burmester, who represented our country at the Athens and Beijing Olympics, believes it is an ‘absolute joke’ and ‘spineless cop-out’ that the IOC are not sanctioning the entire Russian contingent for their ‘blatant government sponsored and systematic doping’.
Absolutely no doubting that. Clean athletes are being knowingly undermined by their governing body on the biggest stage of them all.
“We all believe in what the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) is trying to achieve but it is clearly not effective. I don’t understand why they haven’t used evidence from the [independent] McLaren Report to exclude Russia or anyone who has previously been caught cheating or served a ban,” he says.
Burmester says “we know who the cheats are in our sport, but due to heavy repercussions from governing bodies and the likely wrath incurred, most are too frightened to speak out.” And while making political statement at an Olympic Games is against the Olympic charter and carries heavy penalties, Burmester believes if clean athletes, retired athletes and the public band together, the message will get through.
“I propose that we show the IOC that they are making a mockery of something we commit our lives to achieving by choosing to #StandDown from the dais to receive medals to say ‘I’m clean and want to compete against clean athletes, but I don’t believe I am’,” he says. “Yes, there will be collateral damage but something has to be done to say we are not okay with it being swept under the carpet.”
“Sometimes I wonder if it’s all worthwhile in the face of overwhelming political corruption, and if the Olympics will ever be a clean level playing field restored to the pinnacle of fair athletic competition,” he says.
“But at an individual level, in your own environment, you are the guardian of all that is worthwhile, free and wonderful about sport,” he says. “Nothing will make them listen more than a demand from the athletes and sports fans themselves to uphold the integrity and core principles of the Olympic Games.”
A completely worthy if ambitious plan. When you think of Olympic protests you think of Mexico City in 1968, and the fall-out from that.
This campaign is likely to evolve. A more subtle, yet still symbolic protest, might be if the other athletes refuse to shake the Russian’s hand at the medal ceremony. And if the Russian wins gold they refuse to join them on the gold dias as per the Olympic tradition.
Various athletes could try their own way, the concept of #StandDown can be versatile. Perhaps it might also be a fitting tribute to Muhammad Ali.
Burmester has to be applauded for this, and deserves all the encouragement he can get. It appears it is left up to the athletes to make a statement, because their governing body won’t.
Watching the Opening Ceremony this weekend will hold a lot more interest than just the show.