The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.”
— Karl Marx

Olympic Games:
Faster, Higher, Costlier

Aug 1, 2016

After revelations by a Russian athlete in 2014, a report by the World Anti-Doping Agency confirmed that the Russian government promotes systematic doping by its athletes.

The International Olympic Committee’s very moderate reaction tells its own story. It is clear that there is no will to fight against doping, which affects all athletes, not just Russians. After the report was published, it would have been logical for the entire Russian delegation to be excluded if the IOC really wanted to fight doping. But the International Olympic Committee refused to make that decision, so it was left up to the different international sports agencies to decide for each sport whether or not the Russian athletes could participate.

The Russian leaders found it easy to denounce the decisions of those agencies that banned them as “political.” It is quite clear that doping is a practice in every single country.

Of course these decisions were political, since there’s no wall dividing sports from the rest of society.

Olympic sports have always been big money. The Olympic Games are followed by millions and millions of people on television. For Coca-Cola, Samsung, McDonald’s, Nissan, etc., the Olympics are a chance to make big profits by putting their ads out during a worldwide spectacle, for which they hold exclusive rights.

But to catch the attention of the T.V. audience, records must fall. The athletes must always run faster, jump higher. And the bonuses grow for the athletes who beat the old records. Hence, the growth of steroids and other drugs by athletes from every country.

Besides these financial games, the Olympics are the occasion for governments all over the world to cultivate more nationalism. So, of course, governments don’t look too closely at the performances of their champions; and they even encourage the illegal practices that go on.

The report on doping has no other point than to maintain the credibility of the athletes in the Olympic Games, avoiding anything too loud, too obvious, too awkward. In the face of the revulsion provoked by Julia Stepanova’s revelations about Russian athletes in 2014, the authorities didn’t want to make waves. So it’s the Russian athletes who pay the price.

But the Olympic committee also doesn’t want to go too far in supporting whistle-blowers. Julia Stepanova, who denounced the Russian system of doping, will not be allowed to compete. The IOC supported her suspension in 2013 to justify its decision.

The show must go on, with the doping, without the whistleblowers, for the sake of the advertisers!