Republican News · Thursday 20 September 2000

[An Phoblacht]

Shamateur Olympics

Chemists and drug cheats ruin the ideal

Most of you will, no doubt, watch some of the wall-to-wall coverage of the Olympics. I really can't think why.

People often complain that Christmas has become commercialised, that the ringing of tills has tainted the true spirit of the festival.

Well, if the `Spirit of Christmas' was as tainted by commercialism as is the Olympic Spirit, then Santa would be dealing drugs to kids outside a primary school on Christmas Eve!

The Olympics are nothing less than a beano for the global economy, the same global economy that has obliterated peoples like the Australian Aborigines.

Yeah, that global economy. It was cynicism itself to have Cathy Freeman light the Olympic flame. Her people still are an excluded underclass in Australia. But the optics were right.

The Olympics is all about surface, not substance. The whole thing, like all PR stunts, is a fake. It is a massive marketing exercise for the big sports companies. It's business, not sport.

So, of course, is my sport soccer. But that's honest, it's up front.

The whole shamatuerism of Olympic sport I find nauseating. These people are professionals in everything but name. They are on another planet from the Corinthian types 100 years ago who loved sport for its own sake.

If you look at the athletic achievements of 100 years ago there is one thing you can be sure of. They were genuine. They were the product of healthy bodies, hard training, a good diet and plenty of early nights. That, basically, was it. The Chariots of Fire lads were assisted by little more than a dose of cod liver oil.

Now, however, it is difficult to take any of the `achievements' seriously. Four years ago in Atlanta, as `Ireland' won a great victory, I was a cynic. I didn?t believe that a 5' 3'' woman with small hands and small feet, who had been languishing in the lower reaches of swimming, could achieve such a meteoric rise through the ranks by fair means alone.

`Our' Michelle went through the water like she had been dropped from a Japanese plane at Pearl Harbour. Now Michelle Smith de Bruin is banned from her sport. She was found guilty by the sports authorities of tampering with a urine sample.

Why do so many in sports journalism in this country still want to believe that she was the Real Deal and had been the victim of a terrible conspiracy? Why?

It's the same reason that the Canadians wanted, really wanted, to believe Ben Johnston. Little states like ours have so little chance of Olympic glory that when it come along we want to grab it with both hands. In Atlanta, many of us did. We were mugs because of our Post-Colonial cringe.

Big countries win medals at the Olympics; little, inferior countries like ours just turn up. You aren't a proper country till you can get someone at the Olympics with a gold medal around their necks. So, many of us were blind to the evidence.

The circumstantial evidence is usually there for all those who are prepared to see it. An athlete is stuck in the lower reaches of the sport, then they get a new coach and they go off and train in secret. They then reappear several months later built like Robocop. The secret `training' has worked. They trash the opposition like its no-contest. What they lack in technique they make up for in raw power.

The Chinese woman swimmer who ploughed through the water doing a sumo wrestler's impression of the butterfly stroke was nicknamed `The Flying Dump Truck'. A Big Healthy Woman - drugged up to the eyeballs. They asked her to pee into a bottle and the bottle melted.

The Olympics have a choice.

They can have only the real sports men and women competing or they can be up front about extent of the use of drugs.

They should get the boffins in front of the camera and say ``Look folks, humans can't run that fast UNLESS they take drugs!''

The chemists are the unsung heroes of the Olympics. They should get the recognition that the engineers get in Formula One - the guys who develop the special lubricants and `X' factor fuel additives.

I reckon the after an athletics race the chemists, clutching their bottles of special tablets, should mount the podium and get their own medals.

Human athletes are now running so much faster than even 50 years ago it is silly. It can only be done with chemical assistance. Either we want that chemical assistance or we settle for records standing for a long time. Because the truly exceptional occurs NATURALY once in a generation.

Like must problems in life, it comes down to money. The big sports companies want records broken again and again. It can't be done fairly. It can't be done without drugs.

The power of the sports brands has came into soccer as far as the Brazilian soccer team's dressing room before the World Cup final. Ronaldo was ill, a stomach bug. The team doctor gave him a tablet, but it made him vomit. He was crucially weakened.

The coach decided, correctly, that the lad couldn't play. It is alleged that the Nike chap came into the dressing room and reminded the Brazilian team coach who paid the bills. Ronaldo played and Brazil lost. That is not sport. Nike should not pick the Brazilian national team.

The pharmaceutical industry should not win the 100 metres in Sydney.


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