Reluctant celebration

It is no longer just a few of us who hesitate before applauding victories and records at the various Olympic stadiums. Reluctant and unsure, we follow the efforts of Greek and foreign athletes with an unpleasant sense of foreboding keeping us from rewarding them with applause: «Could the latest medal or record have been achieved with the help of performance-enhancing drugs? » «Could past victories have been the result of drug use?» Whether it is our emotions or logical reasoning that is stopping us from celebrating is open to debate. However, even amid the wildest enthusiasm – when our ability to question facts is subdued – many of us are held hostage by apprehension and skepticism. The repeated doping fiascoes put us in the odd situation of celebrating but not celebrating, and confirmed our worst fears that sports is also big business for the chemical and pharmaceutical industry. Greece, the blessed cradle and host of the Games, unfortunately does not have the moral right to portray itself as sole possessor of the purifying flame, because its own athletes – both the famous and the lesser-known – appear to have succumbed to the temptation of drugs. Even those who take the easy path, convincing themselves that we are the victims of some anti-Greek conspiracy, can sense that that scenario is too convenient to be real. As for the scenario of the moral revival of the Games with the hosting of the shot put competition in the ancient stadium of Olympia, that ending did not follow the script. The play was, indeed, titled «The Return,» but this proved to be not a return to ancient values and ideals but rather the return of a gold medal, as the winner, Russia’s Irina Korzhanenko, failed a drugs test. Competing on hallow ground does not automatically make one a saint.

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