Frozen Olympics

As impressive as the Winter Olympics closing ceremony certainly was, it did not expunge the problems. Despite the happy faces, ice dancing and somewhat incongruous dinosaurs, there was a bitter aftertaste, even apart from the expected outburst of nationalism on the part of the organizing country (more collateral damage), or the exaggerated Russian claim that the Olympic spirit is experiencing its worse crisis since 1980. Our own officials are not justified in pointing to the Salt Lake Games as a model for Athens 2004. Hardly a single day went by without a scandal. Judges were under pressure to favor certain athletes, medals changed hands or were split down the middle, there were accusations of the revival of Cold War behavior and, of course, the inevitable doping scandal. The fact that some medalists were caught is no consolation. The saying that, «by the time you catch one thief, 10 more have got away,» also holds true in sports. And there are countless ways to evade detection. For weeks now, the International Association of Athletics Federations has been demanding that the American sporting authorities punish athletes who prefer to forfeit prize money rather than be tested and caught. The Americans’ reaction was the same as it is in politics: icy disregard.

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