Of cheats and phonies
When a Chinese girl smashed records previously held by American blokes, typical reaction was one of incredulity. And that’s the polite way of putting it. The blunt way was — she was on steroids.
In the event, no doping has been found. But so what if she was, indeed, on some drugs? Teenage swimmers, not just in China, and indeed not just swimmers, spend years, from their childhood, in intense training. For all purposes, they have nothing like what one could call a ‘normal’ childhood and upbringing. Would steroids have done that much more damage to her?
And that’s when we are talking about teenagers. When it comes to adults like Lance Armstrong or Ben Johnson, why do we care if they took performance enhancing drugs?
It’s against the law, you say. But that just puts the question one step back? Why do we have a law against doping? If someone risks growing a third nipple or disfigured testicles to win Olympics glory, should the society care?
Okay, never mind doping. What about these badminton players? They threw their games. Cheats.
Not so fast. When couple of Englishmen did the same in 1948, they are remembered as, well, heroes.
Sacrificing a battle for durable victory in the war can be strategic genius. The operative assumption here is long term gain. Throw a match to win the series — that shouldn’t be considered cheating.
But what about wholesale fixed matches, or spot fixing, which are done with no regards for victory?
Surely that’s the greatest threat to sports around the world. Not dope. Not coaches thinking strategically. But gambling triads and syndicates. Surely men like this are the worst of the scums scourging sports.