12 August 2016

Rio Olympics crying out for a moral champion

It has been a bad last couple of months for global sports administration. Fifa spent the tail end of last year demonstrating how entrenched corruption was at the very top, that when a dawn raid in Zurich claimed much of its cream, few doubted that the line would eventually reel in Sepp Blatter himself.

It did, and with Uefa president and heir apparent, Michel Platini thrown in as a tip.

But before we could completely digest how corrupt to the core Fifa was, came the revelations about systematic doping in athletics.

Apparently Russia, and others it is argued, have for years run a state-sponsored doping program, and the real scandal here is the International Olympic Committee (IOC)’s inability to resolve the matter, so much so that many of the athletes associated with the vice are present at the Rio Olympics!

Closer home, our neighbors Kenya have not been spared by this controversy. It is said that amongst all those never tiring middle and long distance runners, are some chaps who never really honed their skills by outrunning zebras on their way to school, as we have been made to believe.

The endurance of some, it appears, is delivered not by nature, but by pills and syringes.

Of course there are some Russian, or for that matter Kenyan athletes that are clean. But they must now suffer the fate of collateral victims.

The thing though is why must they suffer this alone? Why isn’t IOC taking responsibility?

I think that for credibility’s sake, IOC should not sit it out and wait for the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) to come and smoke them out of their hotels in an early morning raid. If they care at all they should be doing two things – ban the cheats and then re-organise the leadership, even if that means the disbanding of the entire World Anti-Doping Association.

Of course in the sick and over-indulged world of global sports administration that is as much likely to happen as Blatter and Platini are to accept that their 10-year ban was, in fact, lenient.
In the meantime, though clean athletes who have literally spent their entire lives prepping for the Olympics will have to contend with those, who just ingest aides in between counting money from their endorsement contracts. And that is just so wrong.

As it is we are only left with the renewal powers of sport to salvage whatever is left of the image of the Olympics that right now is battered by publicity on this, the Zika virus and an event that many agree is cosmetic and something Brazil couldn’t really afford.

One can only hope that while the chiefs and a nation wrestle with their morals, the likes of Usain Bolt and Stephen Kiprotich can out-run the mess and become our moral champions. And it matters not if neither bags the Gold. At this rate any clean athlete that just turns up and competes, is much more worth our while than a podium finish powered by synthetic fuel.



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