Corruption · IOC · Rio 2016

Discouragement of Olympic Proportions?

Winter Olympics! In less than one year! Are you ready? Are you excited?!

Yes…..and no.

Sure, I’m getting excited about the Winter Olympics. They’re so much fun to watch, and they’re more manageable to watch. They haven’t been in Asia in a long time, so I’m really looking forward to seeing South Korea’s spin on the Games. PyeongChang’s been gearing up, and they should be ready to go.

However.

There’s a lot of depressing Olympic news as well. First, Rio’s stadiums seem to be falling apart faster than usual, with venues in disrepair or abandoned. The Olympic Village apartments aren’t selling. There are supposedly plans to use venues, but I don’t think anyone’s really buying the government line anymore. It’s sad to see this happen–to know about the billions of dollars that have gone down the tubes in a country that’s still amazingly poor. The infrastructure promises? The hope that this would provide some opportunity just seems to be gone. With no Olympics, would things be different in Brazil?

The other depressing development–and to be very honest, this one really has me a bit down in the dumps about the Olympics in general–is all of the doping that’s still being uncovered. We’re not talking about people being stripped of medals and certificates from just the Rio Games, we’re talking about medals being stripped from Beijing. Eight years and two Olympics ago.

Yep, the IOC keeps samples for 8 years after a Games, in case better tests come along to detect previously undetectable substances. Guess what? They have. So far, there are 61 sanctions from Beijing and 40 from London. So far.

It seems that there are more notices that athletes are being sanctioned or stripped of their certificates/medals. It’s depressing to get these e-mails because with every one, history gets rewritten and the original event becomes less important. How so? Usain Bolt has had one of his medals revoked, thanks to a positive test by one of his relay teammates. So much for his triple-triple (3 gold medals in 3 Olympics)–unless an appeal is successful. With no triple-triple, all of the athletes’ effort, all of the hullabaloo and footage of these events and the countless press is all for naught. History’s wiped out–in fact, it’s not even worth tracking anymore–and fans are left not really knowing what to believe.

The other problem is the athletes who are elevated in the ranks years later. They miss out on their moment in the sun–but more importantly, they miss out on financial opportunities and training opportunities that could help their careers.

It’s frustrating–and honestly, it’s one of the elements that makes me care about the Olympics less. And I’m a person who gets The Fever! The IOC is trying, in a sense. It prevented some dopers from going to Rio, but it all seems too little, too late. At a time when interest in the Olympics is fading, aren’t there better ways to keep the competition legit?

 

BMX · Corruption · Rio 2016 · Synchronized Swimming · Uncategorized

Four Days Left: Craziness Ensues

Well, it wouldn’t be an Olympics without a few scandals, so here are a couple for you:

  • The bad boys of US Swimming could be facing criminal charges for telling a bit of a tall tale, though the IOC didn’t seem to feel the same way.
  • An IOC member’s been charged with ticket scalping (is that the reason the stands are empty?)

In the meantime, I kind of freaked this morning when I saw my DVR was 100% full (and with Modern Pentathlon starting), so I blitzed through some of that coverage while flipping back to live coverage. I caught some Athletics, some Handball, some Whitewater, some Wrestling, some Taekwondo. I deleted the Gymnastics Gala, which to me screams “we want more money”–there’s no Diving or Synchro Swim Gala, and those sports could just as easily be celebrated.

Speaking of Synchronized Swimming, I tuned into the live stream in the middle of Japan’s jaw-dropping technical routine, which, of course, was the last one for the day, so there’s something to look forward to. I also caught the men’s BMX quarterfinals. I realize there are other sports who are having medal events right now, but BMX is so frickin’ cool to watch, that I couldn’t help myself. A few big crashes on the track today, so I hope everyone’s all right.

Corruption · IOC · Scandals

O-Minus 6: Let ’em Dope?

If you’ve got some time this weekend, listen to the BBC World Service’s Owen Bennett-Jones’ in depth podcast on the Olympic ideal. He and an expert panel explore doping and discuss whether it’d be better to just let everyone dope. If we just want to see the best spectacle in sports and the level playing field we idealize really isn’t there, why not just level it? Don’t people who have access to better equipment and training have the upper hand anyway?

It’s a really interesting discussion and gets you thinking about why we like sport and what we value about it.

Also, want to know the hollow victory for someone who wins an Olympic medal years after fact because a doper was stripped of theirs? One of the panelists could still be awarded a medal from Beijing–learn how much money that doping incident may have cost him. You’ll be shocked.

Corruption · IOC · Olympics · Rio 2016 · Scandals

O-Minus 7: How Many Russians Does it Take to Make a Delegation?

So the fallout over the Russian doping scandal continues. The track & field team got banned. The IOC said that clean athletes (as determined by national federation, not by them or anything) could come on down, but hey, guess what? It’s taking a little bit of time to figure out if there are any other doping athletes in their midst.

So far over 100 have been denied their Olympic opportunity. Along with all but one of the athletics team, some swimmers, modern pentathletes and rowers are staying home.

But the fencers, volleyball teams, triathletes and table tennis players are A-OK. They get added to the equestrians, shooters, tennis players, archers and judoka. Everyone’s probably happy that the judo players have been cleared, seeing as how that’s Putin’s sport.

Not surprisingly, Putin’s less than thrilled about the sitch and believes his country’s been unfairly targeted. Even the TASS news agency reports the Russian Olympics Committee president saying this will be the cleanest Russian team ever. Well, yeah, now.

In the meantime, the Russians who are cleared are heading to Rio, and they’re stuck with the stigma of their no-longer national teammates. They’re all going to get asked about the doping scandal, and every Russian who wins will be second-guessed.

For those of us at home, this story is quickly becoming sports business as usual. Inside the Games writes about a study showing that the more doping scandals there are, the less people care about the Olympics. Hell, one of the seminal books on the Olympics is no longer being updated because it’d be out of date before the Games, and the author would have to spend so much time rewriting past Games’ results due to medals being stripped from late doping discoveries.

All of this spells more trouble for the IOC. Sure, in a week they’re going to revel in the razzle-dazzle of the Opening Ceremony and marvel at the outstanding competion we’ll see–but will they be the real, authentic athletic performances that we want to see? Or will they be an illusion? And if it’s not real, perhaps it’s not worth watching.

That’s not what the IOC wants to hear, especially from a younger generation that craves authentic experiences. Hopefully this smaller Russian delegation, while not the numbers and the medal-winning opportunities that the country hoped for, will be the clean delegation the IOC needs.

Corruption · IOC · Scandals

O-Minus 11: Russia’s Lucky Break

The 2016 Olympics haven’t even begun and doping’s already been a hot topic (well, maybe continuing hot topic, since anti-doping agencies are still coming out with drugged results from Olympics past). To catch you up, many Russian athletes in many sports–including pretty much its entire track & field team–have been banned for doping. The problem seemed like a systematic state-sponsored program, so there was a push for the IOC to ban the entire team from coming.

And the IOC didn’t.

Well, they looked into it. And they were properly shocked. But they ultimately decided to pass the buck and let each individual sporting federation decide the Russians’ fate–and they’re supposed to do analysis on athletes’ doping testing records and make the ultimate decision on whether they can participate. By August 5.

Who’s shocked about this? The IOC did say they won’t accredit officials from the Russian Sports Ministry, and they said it’d be a good idea to move scheduled major winter sporting events out of Russia, but those are really small sanctions against a much larger problem.

Russia was pleased by the decision because it means that innocent Russian athletes don’t get punished. However, there’s a lot of outcry against the IOC’s statement because if the doping’s state-sponsored, the state should get punished. Is it fair to those clean athletes? No, but then neither were the USSR and USA Olympic boycotts.

What will be interesting is to see if any federations end up banning Russian athletes before Rio 2016–or if we’ll be reading about athletes who doped at Rio for years to come.

In other news, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has reinstated Rio’s drug-testing lab, which is good news, as it’ll be able to conduct tests during the Olympics, and the Games won’t be forced to send samples overseas for testing.

Brazil · Corruption · Scandals

O-Minus 31: Everyone’s Got Problems

So the other day, some body parts washed up on Copacabana Beach, which added more fuel to the fire for Rio being an an absolute disaster of a Games. Right now we have health concerns with Zika and polluted waters, a dire financial and political situation, unfinished construction and the general safety of, well, just about  everyone.

But seriously, we here at The Feverr are fairly sure that Rio will pull off the Olympics–maybe not perfectly, but the Games will happen. The athletes will do amazing things. The venues will work as much as they need to. People will have fun. The gangs will hopefully play nice (at least where the cameras are). We’ll all see Brazil in a brand-new light and will–perhaps momentarily–want to visit. Besides, it’s not like every other Olympics has a segment of people crying Olympic doomsday. Let’s take a look at past ways the Olympics were going down:

London 2012: SO many potential problems: Potential security blunders! Transport and roads not being able to handle the crowds! No one could get tickets! Environmentally unfriendly! You know what? Pretty decent Games. Sure, the ticket problem was an issue–some empty-looking stands caused some rage. And the London 2012 logo might be one of the worst ever. But overall? Team GB showed us a great time!

Beijing 2008: Smog city! Human rights issues galore! A clampdown on media! Underage gymnasts! But Beijing cleaned up enough to get the Games done–although it was still the most polluted Games on record. The city also expanded its public transportation system, in part because of the Olympics, which could have a positive impact on the environment. In terms of human rights, some world leaders threatened to boycott the Opening Ceremonies, but that plan fell through. All in all, China’s big coming out party to the world, was OK–and while there’s a lot left to be desired, nothing major broke. (not surprisingly, the IOC said it was a great Games). If you’re going on pure spectacle, the shiny new stadiums and mind-blowing Opening Ceremonies had big crowd appeal. The city probably did some regression in terms of rights, etc., after the Games, and it can definitely improve for when it hosts the Winter Olympics in 2022, but it probably also came a long way from where it started back in 2001 when it was awarded the Games.

Athens 2004: Oh, Athens. We’ve seen what happened to you. And we saw some big doping issues. But there was hope that 2004 could help bolster your economy and perhaps fix some pollution. Sad to say, the country that was not quite ready to host the 1996 100th anniversary of the modern Olympics, was not prepared to host in 2004–at least, not the spectacle and so many facilities the modern Olympics had become (we can talk about the need for so many venues in a different post). Although the Games were lovely, Rio may likely see the same fate: A lot of debt and crumbling, unused venues that no one can maintain.

Sydney 2000: Hey, Sydney, the IOC wanted a “Green Games,” and yours was located on a big unused industrial area/garbage dump with toxic waste. You made it look great though and turned an eyesore into a really nice, still well-used area. There were also ticket and other bribing scandals. Ultimately, though, the Games were a pretty big hit, with the entire world yelling Aussie! Aussie! Aussie! Oy! Oy! Oy!

Do we think Rio will pull this off without a hitch and smell like roses years down the road? No, we’re not that naive. But we think the Games will work. Just like Brazil pulled off the World Cup in 2014, this sporting spectacle will have its place in the spotlight (or “sportlight,” as I almost typed). What happens afterward? Maybe that’s up to us.

Corruption · News Roundup · Scandals

O-Minus 49: Russian Athletics, Don’t Bother Coming

Feverr levels: Mild spike in temps

Where’s the torch? Santarém, Pará. We’re still in northern Brazil, just further inland down the Amazon.

Big news out of Vienna today, where the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), the international governing body for Athletics (aka track and field) decided to uphold a ban on Russian athletics’ athletes, effectively barring them from participating in the Olympics.

The IAAF initially banned Russia last November, a moved that the Russian Federation (ARAF) completely accepted without enacting its right to have a hearing. Sounds like they understood they got busted. And the bust was pretty damning, with reports of widespread, systemic doping starting at the top.

At any rate, ARAF had to comply with a bunch of stuff in order to prove it was clean, and the IAAF today decided that nope, they need to sit time out a little while longer. Unfortunately for Russian athletes who are clean, that means their Olympic dreams are pretty much shattered.

This, of course, is heartbreaking news to many Russians, to which the IOC so far has said, Meh, it’s the IAAF’s decision, but they’re going to have a serious talk about this over the next few days. However, the IAAF is throwing out a glimmer of hope with a new regulation that says clean athletes who’ve gone through independent testing can apply for an exemption to be allowed to compete — but not under the Russian flag. Here at TheFeverr, we immediately wonder whether this means any Russian track a,nd field medal winners would not get country awards– which in 2012 was $135,000 for gold.

According to the Moscow Times, this ban also prevents 4,027 Russian athletes from participating in any international competitions by the IAAF or the Association of International Marathons and Distance Races (AIMS).

So it’s a rough day for some athletes, but a day of vindication for other athletes who lost out to people who cheated the system.

Today’s Portuguese lesson: Let’s learn Olympic sport names! This one’s a twoparter.