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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 8/3/21

The Allure of Winning

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Message Arshad M Khan

The Tokyo 2021 Olympics are in full swing a year off schedule, and still marred by the covid menace. The stands are mostly empty as Japan is experiencing a surge in new infections due to the delta variant. Now there is warning that vaccine immunity is short-term and will require periodic booster shots.

Olympic organizers, presumably desperate for cash, have developed an anything-for-a-buck mentality. The line between attractiveness and revulsion, tastelessness and vulgarity, followed subconsciously by dress designers is unfamiliar to these officials as evidenced by their mandated dress codes. The German women's beach handball team refused to wear the ultra-skimpy bikini bottoms and appeared in shorts. Celebrities then offered to pay the fines imposed on them.

An American silver medalist in a swimming event ranted and raved about how the race was not clean. The Russian winner displayed grace and the American insisted he had not directed his remarks at the Russian. Then who did he mean? Too bad they no longer have pistols at dawn to encourage restraint in language.

In this surreal Olympics, Russia is supposedly absent. The Russian flag is not displayed and the Russian anthem is not played. It is because the country was accused of a state-wide doping scheme. Yet all the Russian athletes are present competing under the ROC acronym -- standing for the Russian Olympic Committee. According to this logic, the athletes were force-fed the doping pills. Perhaps they were...

Nigerian sprinter Blessing Okagbare, a silver medalist at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, was suspended after winning a 100-meter heat in Tokyo when she tested positive for human-growth hormone. The hormone builds muscle mass and reduces body fat. After ten other Nigerians were also suspended, the Nigerian Athletic Federation accepted responsibility.

Scandals involving performance-enhancing substances are not new. The notorious case of Carl Lewis and Ben Johnson comes to mind. The latter won the 100-meter race at the Seoul Olympics but failed a drug test and the gold medal was awarded to Carl Lewis in second place. It later emerged he had tested positive for banned substances two months earlier at the US Olympic trials -- a result the US committee chose to ignore. Thus the medal belonged to Britain's Linford Christie... except he, too, had a colorful doping history. Dennis Mitchell, the next man in line, was later banned for testosterone.

Another notorious case is that of cyclist Lance Armstrong. He garnered seven Tour de France titles and one Olympic medal. Persistent allegations of doping led eventually to an investigation by the US Anti-doping Agency, which Armstrong unsuccessfully tried to block through the courts. He was stripped of his seven Tour de France titles and the Olympic gold medal when he decided not to contest the charges. It is possible the numerous eye-witnesses and other cyclists who had admitted doping brought him to reality.

The fact remains that as long as there is the glitter of fame and a good chance they will beat the scheduled tests, athletes are going to be tempted.

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Arshad M Khan is a former Professor. Educated at King's College London, Oklahoma State University and the University of Chicago, he has a multidisciplinary background that has frequently informed his research. He was elected a Fellow of the (more...)
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