Wednesday, 10 August 2016

The Olympic Nightmare

The Olympics motto of "citius, altius, fortius" used to send chills down my spine as a child. I always got so excited at the idea of the best of the best competing heroically just for the glory of it.
However that ideal was shattered by the revelations of Ben Johnson's use of steroids. Tales of covering up of positive drugs tests by Americans during the LA Olympics further tainted the so called Olympic ideal. The scoring system in boxing had to be changed after biased scoring by Korean judges at the Seoul Olympics. By the time professional basket players were allowed to compete in Olympic competition all hope was lost. Since then there has been evidence of corruption in the International Olympic Committee under the stewardship of Juan Antonio Samaranch, and a seemingly endless stream of failed drug tests amongst top competitors. To all intents and purposes the Olympics has become just another arena for making money by any means available.  

The IOC faced calls to ban Russia from participating in the Rio Olympics. Not surprisingly it let itself down by deciding to pass the decision on to individual Olympic associations. Russia has a long history of state sponsored doping. All the way back to the times it was actively doping athletes in conjunction with the then East Germany. That alone suggests that it will take more than a few months to clear up Russia's predilection for doping its athletes. A total ban shouldn't be seen as punishment but as a chance for Russia to finally clean itself up and allow its athletes to finally do themselves justice.

However, Russia isn't the only country to have institutionally condoned the use of performance enhancing drugs.
The use of human growth hormone and blood doping were pioneered in the United States. China has a history of organised doping. Kenya and Jamaica have had questions asked about their drug testing setups. 

The IOC has had more than enough reasons to be proactive on the issue of doping in sports. It could certainly do more to fund the research into, and administration of drug testing. It may be time to take responsibility for drugs testing away from hosting nations and compel it to be subcontracted out to an independent body or organisation. The IOC has an obligation to show that it has a zero tolerance policy with regards the use of performance enhancing drugs. It is time to consider adopting a lifetime ban for any athletes found guilty of doping. Until the IOC starts leading the way in the eradication of doping in sports the Olympic Games will embody none of the spirit of the true Olympians of ancient legend.