Cold war in hot Rio

on August 2016 | in Sports | by Dario Passarelli | @PapaDart | with No Comments

For those of you that have read my posts over the last few weeks (first and foremost, thank you!) you might have noticed that I tend to get easily irate towards the end of the week. I was upset at umpires and refs at one time, at fans a few times and I always, repeat always have time to rip into the IOC as they so richly deserve. But today ladies and gentlemen, it isn’t about me. I am sure that shocked some of you into hysterics. So go ahead and laugh (I deserve it) and take a moment to compose yourself before continuing. Alright, you can stop now… it wasn’t THAT shocking. What I meant to say though, that today it isn’t me that’s going to fly off the handle as others are doing it. So much for the spirit of the Olympic games bringing out the best of humanity as things got frosty at the Olympic Aquatic Stadium as the Cold War began anew in Rio between swimmers American Lilly King and Russian Yulia Efimova.

We already know that most, if not all Russian athletes are persona non grata at these Olympics and although the reception at the opening ceremonies did not seem out of the ordinary, it certainly was during the women’s 100m breaststroke final. Efimova won of the qualifying heats and raised her finger indicating she was number one. That apparently opened the flood gates as Lilly King said afterward, “You wave your finger ‘No1’ and you’ve been caught drug cheating…I’m not a fan.” And it is true that although Efimova was caught twice, she served a sentence for the first time and the second convction was overturned, she was in the end, by the great minds of the IOC (dammit, I swore I wasn’t going to get angry) cleared to compete in Rio. Everyone anxiously waited for the final and as they walked out, Efimova was booed mercilessly and King cheered. The American put on a show and led through every stroke winning the gold medal in an Olympic record, while Efimova walked away in tears. It didn’t end there. Efimova was grilled at the post swim press conference and had this happened to any other athlete at any other time, the PR people would have stopped the press conference, but they allowed it to continue. It seems these days that cheaters these days (hello ARod!) are vilified human beings by other athletes, fans and even anyone else close by. The Rio organizers left her there to answer question after question until finally, she was allowed to walk away, again in tears. The public shaming seemed like something out of Game of Thrones, and I couldn’t stomach it.

I am not saying she didn’t deserve it, but really, has humanity come to this? I understand we never liked cheaters, but Sammy Sosa and Mark McGuire were never treated like this. Yes, there were repercussions like writers who refused to select either of them to the Hall of Fame, but there wasn’t a public shaming tool in those days like Twitter or Facebook. Now closer to home, someone like Ben Johnson was as he states ‘nailed to the cross’ for cheating in Seoul 1988. He did have it rough and here is the one thing (oh oh my blood pressure is rising) that bothers me the most. History has proven that in most cases, those that scream the loudest usually are trying to hide something. Think back to Lance Armstrong, Roger Clemens and my personal favourite, Rafeal Palmeiro.

Carl Lewis, the sprinter who now is considered the winner of that race was quite outspoken about running clean just as Lilly King has done. Now by no means am I calling Ms. King a cheat as there has been nothing to even hint at such a thing. But it wasn’t until decades later that we have found out that Carl Lewis had also failed THREE drug tests in 1988. Those tests were covered up. On top of that, in 2003 Lewis admitted that he was “one of hundreds” of Americans (too late, here I go, getting riled up again) allowed to escape bans for testing positive for banned substances. How different is what the US did in 1988 to what Russia did now? It kinda looks the same to me, doesn’t it?

So go ahead and tweet all your hateful, spiteful tweets about the Russian athletes. Tweet your love for the clean Americans (and Canadians too) Fall in love with the spirited Ms. King and enjoy her victory and how she successfully carried the American torch and burned the big, bad Russian bear of Yulia Efimova. Continue your U-S-A chants and turn this into yet another (yawn) block buster movie. I strongly suggest however that while you are doing all that, don’t look into a mirror as you may not like what you see. I on the other hand will not boo Ms. King nor will I cheer her, I will simply wait 30 or 40 years to see what truth, if any, comes out… well, if I live that long anyway.

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