Monday, June 27, 2016

67 and Counting

Perhaps as a sop to Russian President Vladimir Putin, the International Olympic Committee has allowed Russian track athletes to compete in the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games if they can prove that they haven't used steroids; the athletes who can most likely do so would be athletes who have trained outside Russia and aren't tainted by the system.  They are being encouraged to apply for exemptions to the ban imposed on Russia's track and field team.  So far, 67 athletes have applied, but few of them are likely to get a waiver.
International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach is reportedly friendly with Putin, and the Russian leader did help the Olympic movement along by successfully staging the Sochi Winter Games in 2014, so this is a way of keeping Vlad happy.   It remains to be seen whether this will work out.  For one thing, the athletes may have to compete under the Olympic flag, representing no country at all, and some Russians might find that insulting.  Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko has taken responsibility for the doping and is ready to quit if things get worse.  Be prepared to clean out your desk, Vitaly.
You know, I've often found our own Olympic committee in These States odious, because it's governed, or something like it, by private interests and private money, but I'm glad we have no federal bureaucracy devoted to sports, because these things happen in organizations like that.  I think the United States Olympic Committee should not be run like a business, with corporate funding and all that, but I wouldn't want to see a national sports program run by a department secretary in the presidential Cabinet either.  There's only one person I trust to lead a hypothetical Department of Sport, and Michelle Obama has enough on her hands already.    

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