Olympics skullduggery about more than medals for Russia

The thinking behind a state-sponsored drug-cheating program is not about something as small as Olympic medals. It’s about nationalism, about lifting the Motherland, about the pursuit of international dominance.

It’s about the dumbest thing ever.

A World Anti-Doping Agency investigation into Russia’s cheating in international competitions – an alleged 312 falsified drug reports from 2011 to 2015 — feels like something more than Cold War gamesmanship. It feels like another Orwellian warning about what happens when we forget about the individual and pledge total allegiance to the state. Some things never change. According to the report, all organs of the government were involved in the doping program, including the spinoff of the KGB. You know what I’m saying, comrade?

There is no discernible physiological difference between Americans and Russians, or Chinese and Russians, or Irish and Malaysians. We’re all the same. But once we start keeping score – whether it’s in an athletic event or in an arms race – pride and boundaries kick in. If you mix in just enough nationalist goofiness, state-sponsored drug cheating happens. If the goofiness goes overboard, maybe the conversation turns to racial purity.

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Does anyone really care which country wins the most Olympics gold medals? If so, why? For better standing on the world stage? To unite the citizenry? To add to the fairy tale that your nation is physically superior to the rest of the planet and, therefore, meant to lead the planet?

And how did that work for the former East Germany or for the former Soviet Union? You’d think there would be a lesson in that. But, no. If we’ve learned one thing from history, it’s that nobody ever learns.

 


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