It’s a controversy that’s taken the swimming world by storm, with Australia’s Mack Horton refusing to stand on the podium alongside China’s Sung Yan in apparent protest of his recent dealings with FINA’s doping authority.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has reported that yet more athletes have failed doping re-tests, bringing the total from the current tranche of re-tests to 98.
The reputation of many sports and sports associations are now under the microscope.
More fundamentally there is a greater question at stake: how much longer will sports-fans and supporters continue to follow these sports?
The credibility of any number of sports is increasingly coming into question, which in the long run will affect the supporters. The upshot, of course, is that this will lessen the value to sponsors and reduce the already meagre incomes many of these athletes earn.
This was brought home to me over the last week as we sat down at home to watch the last couple of Cross-Country Skiing and Biathlon events we had left over on the recorder from the European winter World Cups.
These were recorded well before the systemic and systematic doping at the Sochi Winter Olympic Games came to light.
For those who do not follow these sports, suffice it to say that the Russian athletes figure prominently in the upper echelons of both sports.
While watching the events it became increasingly distracting that each time a Russian came to the fore, or dug deep, or showed stamina, the question “Was that due to doping?” bubbled to the surface.
It really did lessen the joy of watching what are usually some of our favourite events and favourite athletes.
Now we have real doubts about the sports we follow. This is to the extent of discussing removing a cherished poster from my own home, which was personally inscribed and autographed and sent to us by one of Russia’s best ever female biathletes.
This poster has a prominent position and has been some source of pride. Now we are not so sure, even though there has been no allegation of doping by that athlete.
In all of this, I guess the supporters and sports-fans are also losers and at it is the supporters who buy merchandise, go to watch, pay television subscriptions, view sponsors advertising. We are the ones who, the end of the day, pay for all of this.
So some questions come to mind.
Are we allowed to be disappointed?
Are we allowed to be angry?
Are we right to remove our support of sports that are tainted?
We’ve kept up our end of the bargain, is it not time that athletes and administrators did the same?