Heads in the sand

Shortly before the lighting of the Olympic Flame at Ancient Olympia, which, according to the prime minister, would travel to China along with the age-old Greek concept of noble competition, a most anti-Greek fish called the World Anti-Doping Agency discovered that the archipelagos of Greek sports is no less polluted than Lake Koroneia. An out-of-competition check found that almost the entire men’s and women’s national weightlifting teams had taken banned substances. Not everyone, it seems, has confidence in the all-conquering DNA of the Greeks and ways are thus being sought to enhance it. Allegations that the performance-enhancement drugs were imported from doping-prone China shows that this year’s Games will be no cleaner than the previous, supposedly more commercialized, ones. You cannot become a champion by drinking chamomile and vitamin supplements. Extraordinary achievements can only come from an unnatural, oversized body that requires more than just healthy nutrition and heavy training. When a medal is accompanied by a 190,000-euro cash prize plus a place at one of the country’s universities, a post in the military and other rewards, then the glory-seeking athletes are pushed to make all sorts of «sacrifices,» steroids included. Games without money prizes might solve the problem, but the «kind sponsors» would be less keen to support them. If this were the first time that Greek athletes tested positive for banned substances, then there might be some room for the customary defense: error, isolated incident, anti-Greek conspiracy. But it’s not, so the issue is not whether the Chinese sent the wrong products (which we should anyway have checked). And if we continue to ignore the facts, we will only prove that since the opening of ostrich farms in Greece, more and more Greeks are inclined to stick their heads in the sand.

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