author: john loeppky | sports editor
The landscape looks a little different now, doesn’t it?
The Russian track team has been banned from competing in the upcoming Rio Olympics because of what can only be described as an astounding and deep-rooted aversion to playing by doping rules by the Russian Federation.
This leaves the sports landscape in an even more ruinous state than before. While the IOC (International Olympic Committee) stopped short of banning the entire Russian delegation, the task of determining each individual team’s inclusion in the games has been handed down to the governing bodies of each sport. Beyond that, only athletes with a clean record will be allowed to compete.
The Russian doping scandal is just the latest event on a sporting timeline filled with an increasing amount of discord with doping regulations. WADA (World Anti-Doping Agency) is tied up in regulations and underfunding, and the alleged state-sanctioned doping that Russia has embarked on builds from the issues seen in individual sports. From Lance Armstrong’s steroid-aided wins at the Tour De France, to the pill popping of major league baseball, and on through the mini scandals that have wracked other events, the main offender (at least in terms of Olympic sports) is still track and field.
It has gotten to the point where spectators wonder aloud who is doping and who isn’t. The sanctity of sport is gone, my friends, but this has been a long time coming. If it was the drugs that ransacked the NBA in the late 70’s, the steroids that infect baseball locker rooms, boosting (cutting yourself for the adrenaline) in Paralympic sports, or the latest Russian travesty, the history of cheating is as deep as it is long.
Thankfully, the IOC did stop short of handing out a ban to the entire Russian team. Complete bans are never fit for their intended purpose. The deathblow dealt to the SMU football team stands as one example, but the Olympics has their own share of political turmoil still stemming from the two biggest boycotts it has ever seen. The two boycotts, the Soviets and the Americans in successive games, still have those involved hot under the collar.
Of course, the anarchist in me wants us to have the Steroid Games. Forgetting the medical and moral concerns for the moment, can you imagine watching Usain Bolt outrun a cheetah? I would watch the hell of that. Okay, fine, bad idea.
But how do they fix it, short of dissolving all of the corrupt organizations that allow these things to go on under their watch? Not to be a pessimist, but they can’t, not a chance. FIFA has cut off the head of the snake, so to speak, and it’s more than likely only a matter of time before those looking to line their pockets return to the scene of the crime. Want to fix the sporting world’s doping problem? Ban any athlete who has taken a banned substance from competing and invest all of the money you can into testing. The Olympic movement started as an event for amateurs, for the sanctity and purity of sport, and now the only thing left cleansed is the syringes before they inject someone with a poison that will quicken their pace and their death.