There’s something about the principle of fair play that’s taking a knock during these Olympics. What happened to the presumption of innocence until found guilty?
An unpleasant wave of hostility has picked on one group of athletes while others in the Western camps are rightly praised for their stunning performances. Teenage swimmers Ruta Meilutyte (Lithuania) and Katie Ledecky were allowed their outstanding wins while Ye Shiwen has undergone a pitched psychological battle in front of the world.
People keep arguing that China has the fastest, highest, longest record of sports doping despite only rejoining the Olympics in 1984 after the Cold War hiatus. Yet, after an unfortunate period when China did what everyone else had been doing for years, they changed their policy in the late 1990s and now come down hard on anyone they find breaking the rules. For those who keep insisting that China’s the Big Bad in this, while the nation of Ye’s accuser US swimming coach John Leonard is squeaky clean, I recommend you read these articles: here, Dr Wade Exum’s report here, and here and here and here.
When British Olympic Association chair Lord Moynihan and the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) exonerated Ye, BBC’s Newsnight was one of several news outlets that changed tack and brought in experts to prove that China could possibly be using genetic science to cheat. If China is creating an army of genetically modified super-freaks, then why aren’t they smashing their way to golds in every sports discipline? Where are China’s champion runners?
If evidence arises proving that an athlete has been doped, then do throw the book at them. But let’s not go down the Minority Report road of sportsmanship. That way madness and prejudice lie.
The Guardian published my article on Saturday — 2nd August 2012
The monstering of swimmer Ye Shiwen says much about declining superpowers
Chinese Olympic athletes are people, not comic book villains. Something’s going on when one nation is so singled out
It’s not cricket, you know. There’s something fiendishly cruel about the monstering of 16-year-old Ye Shiwen, who won a swimming gold in Saturday’s 400m individual medley. First she was labelled a cheat in front of a global audience and then refused an apology when repeated drugs tests show up clean as a whistle.
First off the block was the host nation’s BBC commentator Clare Balding, who sprinted to the worst conclusion on zero evidence within seconds of Ye’s record-breaking win with her loaded comment: “How many questions will there be, Mark, about somebody who can suddenly swim so much faster than she has ever swum before?”
With the starter pistol thus fired for the media witchhunt to find Ye guilty of winning while Chinese, in they all piled. …
Another interesting incident you may have missed: in fencing, South Korea’s Shin A Lam lost her gold opportunity due to us putting a 15 yr-old volunteer in charge of timekeeping. The kid allowed more than the one second left on the clock, a sudden extension that allowed Shin’s German opponent to strike the hit and knock her out of the contest. And then the judges allowed it to stand!
Brendan O’Neill In the Telegraph on Chinese as freaks and robots.
Musa Okwonga in the Independent: If they’re Brits we call it tactics.
Anna’s food blog here: