USA Cheapens Olympics With Cold War-style
15, 2013 "Information
- The public humiliation of Russian swimmer
Yulia Efimova by American rivals was an ugly,
chauvinistic display of self-righteousness. It
was also a disturbing expression of Washington’s
belligerent geopolitics by athletes who should
be celebrating common humanity.
USA, led by 23 gold-medal record holder Michael
Phelps, are certainly in awesome winning form at
the Rio Olympics, leading the medals table by a
what good is all that precious metal when the
athletes show such meanness of spirit and
willingness to be stooges for their government’s
the women’s 100m breaststroke final earlier this
week where the sharpest action took place. The
gold winner was 19-year-old American Lilly King
who bested Russia’s Yulia Efimova into second
place, taking the silver.
boorish victory splashing of water into her
Russian rival’s face was later followed by a
blunt refusal to shake Efimova’s hand during the
subsequent medal ceremony.
“She’s a drug cheat,” said
King. “This is a victory for clean sports.”
The American also added that she thought Efimova
should not have even been in the event, owing to
a past drug ban.
truculent American was not backing down either,
refusing to make any retraction or conciliation. Her
team members, including the legendary Michael
support for King’s pillorying of Efimova. Even
the spectators in the American section of the pool
gallery had joined the fray by lustily booing the
Russian, who at one point broke down in tears.
swimming federation president Vladimir Salnikov said
the atmosphere at Rio was a disturbing reminder
of the Cold War days during the 1980s when the
US and Soviet Union each boycotted each other’s
who was a four-time gold medalist, said the
hostility towards Efimova was inexcusable. He
deplored the lack of honor among the American team.
“Efimova has been through a very severe ordeal, and
in an atmosphere of distrust and uncertainty I think
she showed very strong character – resilience and
focus – and so I think she deserved her medal,”
he told Reuters news agency.
relished indulging in a morality play. The narrative
subtext was that decent, law-abiding Americans show
themselves to be superior, morally and physically,
to those no-good, cheating Russians. God truly does
“bless America” for its righteous and
jingoistic view, the Olympics are the sporting
corollary of geopolitics. America, so it goes, is
right to slap economic sanctions on Russia because
it has offended international law in Ukraine;
America is right to escalate NATO forces on Russia’s
border because it is threatening Europe; America is
right to condemn Russian President Vladimir Putin
because he is propping up a tyrant in Syria by
bombing “moderate rebels” and civilians.
is it is all unsubstantiated and reckless
insinuation, if not audacious inversion of reality.
The ban by
the International Olympic Committee on some 100
Russian athletes coming to Rio – a third of the
whole team – follows the same propaganda dynamic.
Bombastic claims of Russian “state-sponsored” doping
do not meet any legal standards of proof. It is all
based on hearsay and Western media amplification, as
with the other geopolitical claims.
maelstrom stepped 24-year-old Yulia Efimova. It was
pathetic to see other athletes ripping into her with
such vicious abandon.
deal with some facts here. Efimova is based in the
US where she has been training for several years. So
much then for claims of
“Russian state-sponsored doping”.
banned in 2013 after being tested positive for
traces of the anabolic steroid DHEA. However, the
ban was reduced from the statutory two years to 16
months because her plea was accepted that she was
unaware a food supplement she had taken happened to
contain traces of the offending hormonal substance.
earlier this year, Efimova was tested positive for
the heart medication Meldonium. This is the same
drug that snagged Russian tennis star Maria
Sharapova and several other athletes. The problem
arose after Meldonium was put on the proscribed list
as a performance-enhancing drug only in January of
this year. Commonly taken as a heart-protecting
medication, many athletes like Efimova and Sharapova
were then found to have traces of the substance
still in their bodies after the ban was introduced.
before the Rio games opened, Efimova’s appeal was
accepted by the Geneva-based Court of Arbitration
for Sports (CAS) and she was reinstated as
“clear” to compete. Thus, the highest sporting
appeal tribunal judged the Russian eligible for
participation in the Olympics.
the Americans’ snubbing of her not only unsporting –
but legally unwarranted.
the 100m breaststroke final, Efimova went on to win
a second silver in the 200m event. Her American
rival, Lilly King, failed
to qualify for that final.
explicitly said she is against doping in sport. She
said “everyone deserves a second chance”.
It is hard to spurn that sentiment. Not just in
sports, but in life generally, surely everyone
deserves the opportunity to redeem oneself.
triumph also this week in Rio by American swimmer
Anthony Ervin, dubbed the “comeback king”.
He won the gold in the men’s 50m freestyle. At age
35, he became the oldest swimmer ever to win the top
remarkable is Ervin’s personal story of redemption.
Sixteen years ago, the Californian won gold at the
Sydney Olympics at the tender age of 19. Three years
later, his life crashed into an abyss of mental
depression, drug abuse and alcoholism. For a long
period, the Olympian hero was homeless and unknown,
dosing on LSD.
somehow Ervin conquered his demons and turned his
life around. After years of not being anywhere near
a pool, he began training again. This week saw his
return to the Olympics and winning his second gold
medal. He had auctioned off his first medal in 2004,
reportedly to help the victims of that year’s
Tsunami disaster in Asia.
Russia’s Efimova again: “Everyone deserves a
second chance.” Amen to that.
noble art of sports is about defeats and victories,
great human struggles, perseverance and faith. And
in those endeavors we see and share our common
painfully regrettable about the present games is the
way common humanity has been carved up to fulfill a
geopolitical agenda set out by Washington to
demonize and vilify Russia. This agenda is nothing
short of a drumbeat for war. It is reprehensible and
regrettable is that some great sportsmen and women
are in lockstep with this jingoistic drumbeat for
that Team USA tried to tear Yulia Efimova apart in
public is odious testimony that warmongering has
contaminated the Olympics – 25 years after the Cold
War was supposed to have ended.
King, Michael Phelps and others have ganged up on
Efimova in this appalling manner if normal, friendly
US-Russian relations pertained? Why didn’t Team USA
take a consistent righteous stand by railing against
athletes from other countries implicated in doping?
pinnacle of sporting prowess is not a metallic
object. It is something far more enduring in the
human spirit. Team USA – the swimmers at any rate –
may have won a clatter of gongs, but in terms of
dignity and humanity, they are showing themselves to
be uncouth losers.