David Whitley column: Let the Russians come to Rio: Olympics need a villain
The Olympics are just three weeks away, and it seems obvious that Russia should be treated like Zika mosquitoes and fumigated out of Rio de Janeiro.An investigation released Monday said the country has been running an Olympic-sized doping meth ho...
The Olympics are just three weeks away, and it seems obvious that Russia should be treated like Zika mosquitoes and fumigated out of Rio de Janeiro.
An investigation released Monday said the country has been running an Olympic-sized doping meth house for years. The scathing report forced the International Olympic Committee into an emergency meeting Tuesday.
Normally, members would just vote on how to split the hush money Vladimir Putin would soon be depositing in the IOC’s Cayman Islands bank account. But this one is so scandalous, it can’t be bribed away.
Pressure is growing to ban Mother Russia from the Summer Games. If you value integrity, ethics and fair play, that’s the no-brainer choice.
If you want a good, old-fashioned rollicking Olympics, avoid the Russian reset.
Simply put, the Olympics needs its Bad Guy back.
The Games were never better than when they were a proxy for the Cold War. By better, I don’t mean cleaner or more profitable or equitable to the athletes.
I mean emotional and patriotic and likely to make you want to throw your frozen dinner at the TV.
That was all thanks to the Soviet Union and its satellite flunkies. They’d snatch promising toddlers from the crib and raise them in sports camps where every night was the Steroid Buffet at the cafeteria.
It was their professional robots against our innocent, fresh-faced kids who just wanted to win a gold for Grandma back on the Kansas farm.
I’m oversimplifying a tad because I’m still scarred by the 1972 men’s basketball final, when Communist-bloc refs jimmied the clock and ignored blatant violations until the Soviets beat the USA.
Then there was 1976, when East Germany’s women’s swimmers were so doped up they’d developed whiskers and dorsal fins. How ironic that our biggest retort was Bruce Jenner, but that’s another story.
The moral of this one is that when it comes to gripping plotlines, nothing beats the quest to conquer evil. It worked for Shakespeare, Star Wars, King James and Al Michaels as he declared “Do you believe in miracles?”
The Soviet Union was the shark in “Jaws,” and it was killed when the Berlin Wall came down. That’s why Putin is actually great for the Olympics.
He can’t totally recreate the Evil Empire, but it’s not for lack of trying. He’s invaded countries, imprisoned dissidents, pillaged the treasury and posed shirtless.
At least Leonid Brezhnev didn’t flex his naked pecs for the official Kremlin photographer. Now it appears Putin has one-upped the old Soviet president when it comes to Olympic chicanery.
Monday’s report said Russia’s spy agency created a “mouse hole” at the Olympics’ testing site in Sochi, secretly replacing tainted Russian urine samples with clean ones.
And that’s just the tip of the beaker.
“The findings of the report show a shocking and unprecedented attack on the integrity of sports and the Olympic Games,” IOC president Thomas Bach said.
Those crafty Russians even developed a steroid cocktail specifically designed to be masked by booze. Vermouth for women and Chivas scotch for men. I guess they figured vodka would be too cliche.
Putin said the report is just part of a Western conspiracy. Then he had 500 cases of Vermouth and Chivas overnighted to the Russian training center in Rio.
Russia’s track team already has been banned, and there are loud calls for the IOC to kick out the entire Big Red Machine. I say triple-check for mouse holes, collect urine samples every hour and ensure the Russians aren’t doping worse than everybody else.
Then declare the Games of the XXXI Olympiad open. After decades of having only characters and countries to root for, it would be fun to have somebody to root against.
David Whitley is a sports columnist for the Orlando Sentinel.