Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Russian Dopes

I have  a feeling that the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea this coming February are going to be pretty interesting.  Because the Russian team has been banned from taking part over past doping violations.
This is a compete reversal over the concern as to whether the Soviet Union would participate in the Seoul Summer Olympics in 1988, because the U.S.S.R. had no diplomatic relations with the Republic Of Korea, and Cold War tensions were still very palpable then.  The Olympic moment hung by a thread back then.  But the Soviets did attend those Games, and, ironically, so did the doped-up East Germans.  Even more ironically, both countries were gone by the time the 1992 Olympics were held, and South Korea became a full-fledged democracy as a result of its experience hosting the Summer Games.  But the focus in international athletics then turned away from Cold War tensions and even more to state-sponsored performance-enhancing drug programs, as various countries pursued athletic steroid use for national prestige and lucrative profiteering.  Soon individual athletes from sports non-powers got involved, and doping went from being a way for Communists to cheat to a way for everyone to cheat . . . even Americans.  Lance Armstrong, anyone?
We might not see any Americans cheat in Pyeongchang, though, and not because our athletes are all clean. The White House recently refused to commit to allowing a U.S. Winter Olympics team to South Korea, probably because of that nuclear-weapon thing on the other side of the DMZ.  NBC, already cheated out of broadcasting the 1980 Moscow Olympics due to geopolitical tensions, may not be happy about that, but who cares if Kim Jong Un decides to test missiles during the 2018 Winter Olympics opening ceremony?
And the 2020 Summer Games are in Tokyo . . .
International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach may not like drugs, but I can imagine him having a good stiff drink right about now.

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