doping · IOC · Olympic Sports · Olympics · Scandals · Weightlifting

Weightlifting Put on Notice

The IOC Executive Board met last week, and afterward, TBach gave a press release summarizing a lot of initiatives, including giving weightlifting a smackdown and putting the sport on notice.

What’s all this about? Well, doping’s been a slight issue in the Olympics lately, and weightlifters have been some of the biggest offenders. Retests going back to the 2008 Beijing games are still finding weightlifters who doped, which causes a lot of problems with medals and certificates being stripped, and then the athletes who are now getting awards for competition from eight years ago have lost out on a lot of opportunities, and then the IOC and the Olympics starts losing some integrity, and that’s not really how this org thinks they fly.

The IOC gave the International Weightlifting Federation until December to take care of the problem or at least have a plan for it. If they don’t, well, it might be adios for weightlifting as a sport in 2024. As a glimpse of what that might look like, in the IOC’s recently approved Tokyo 2020 program that removes one men’s event and wipes out 64 participants from those Games–a move that’s supposed to help them reach gender parity.

The IWF’s response is pretty timid–they’re shocked (surprise!) by the results of the retesting, and they’re going to get right on making that plan.

The European Weightlifting Federation, run by a guy who recently lost in the election to oust the incumbent IWF president (who just won his fifth term), was a little more critical on its website, saying that the cut in athletes was “just the first instalment [sic] of the price we will have to pay for years of inadequate management, which has showcased our sport as a doping factory run by private power.” You could hear that mic drop around the weightlifting world.

Good luck to them–changing the system can be pretty tough work, but the possibility of being ousted from the Olympics could make things a lot worse for the sport.

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.


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?


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.

Olympic Sports · Rowing · Scandals

O-Minus 30: More Russian Woes

While Russia’s busy appealing the ban on its track and field athletes for Rio 2016 and over 50 of its athletes are applying to be allowed to compete independently, another Russian has been disqualified from the Games in an entirely different sport: Rowing.

Yep, FISA, the World Rowing Federation, has disqualified the Russian men’s quadruple sculls because one of its members, Sergej Fedorovtsev, a gold medalist from Athens 2004 no less, had tested positive for banned substances in both the A and B tests of a sample provided at an out-of-competition drug test. Because his urine didn’t pass, that entire four-man team’s results were nullified, meaning they won’t be competing in Rio in that event.

In a surprise response, Russia said he didn’t dope intentionally (you don’t say), and initially said they’re thinking of bolstering some of their other rowing teams with the other three rowers.

Instead, New Zealand benefits because they placed just after Russia, and they’ll get to go to Rio instead. Of course, they’re not counting their chickens before they hatch, because Russia’s appealing this one as well.

We’d love to hear from some rowers: How long can one remain at the elite levels? Can a gold medalist from 12 years ago still be Olympic caliber today? It could very well be possible–after all, Michael Phelps is swimming in his fifth Olympics. Biathlete Ole Einar Bjorndalen competed in six Olympics and won at least one gold medal in the last five. It’s possible, that’s for sure, but we’d love to hear from you about longevity in this sport. Drop us a line!


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.