The Rio Olympics are almost here, and apart from the obvious blatant peril male golfers find themselves in, we have the extraordinary scenario of one of the biggest pillars of the Olympic Games set to be banned in what would be an unprecedented move.
Getting banned from the Olympics is not easy, and normally reserved for the likes of Germany, Austria and Japan 70 or so years ago; South Africa and Rhodesia from the 1960s, and more recently Afghanistan. But those have been for other reasons. The boycotts of Olympics from 1976-84 were instigated from those doing the boycotting based on a lot of non-sporting reasons. Typically the IOC has wanted as much money many nations as possible; they are not the ones doing the banning.
Should the IOC act, and that is not guaranteed, it would prove that while drug usage in the Olympics is still a serious issue, we should remember that things used to be worse.
For example, there was that 1988 100 metres final. That was a truly global competitive juicing event, and even Ray Stewart was on it.
This was all entwined with the Cold War. The Moscow Olympics, where they opened the stadium gates for some down-wind javelin throwing, Carl Lewis, the ghost of FloJo, the East German power athletes who went missing etc, and Marion Jones. Things are not good now, but that Cold War pre-WADA era was completely out of control.
Valerie Adams’s best throw is 21.3 metres, and that is said to be the 186th biggest throw in her sport’s history. Without getting too Pollyanna on it, that shows that things have been worse.
The Sochi Winter Olympics were always a Putin vanity project. He personally attended the bidding gala in 2007 following on from the Vancouver Olympiad where Russia won only three Gold Medals. Even in the post Cold War landscape this was an embarrassment. He wanted to restore pride.
And when Sochi won hosting rights, against the odds, he made sure pride would be restored. Victory above all.
So it transpired that steroid-tainted urine samples were swapped for clean ones in Sochi with the help of Russia’s intelligence and anti-doping officials. The tainted samples were passed through a “mouse hole” from inside the secure perimeter of the Sochi lab into an adjacent operations room, where they were allegedly switched.
Bad James Bond plot-lines aside; imagine being the person tasked with that role as an alternative for a winter or 20 in Siberia.
Thanks to some really gutsy whistle-blowers who need to be careful of men in black coats carrying umbrellas, for the first time ever a state controlled drug programme has been confirmed. Sadly the WADA job is so tough it needs those whistle-blowers. It’s not easy staying ahead of the cheats.
The IOC gets a rare chance this week to actually make a stand and reclaim credibility. It will be tough for Rio, but future credibility is at stake. And that includes the mens’ 100 metres final.
It also owes it to WADA