15 August, 2017

Disconcerting thoughts

I have been following closely the World Championships trying not to miss anything in preparation for my report. (Don't worry, it's coming. It will take some time as always but is definitely coming). And I was wondering about what happened to the great powers of yesteryear. Not long ago, in fact just two years ago in Beijing, the World Championships were dominated by Kenya and Jamaica. They took home 7 gold medals each while the USA managed only 6. (The US had obtained the same score in 2013 in Moscow, where Kenya won 5 gold medals and Jamaica 6, but one cannot really compare because of the presence of Russia, expelled from official competitions from 2015). In the 2016 Olympics the situation did not change appreciably since Kenya and Jamaica won 6 gold medals apiece while the US, profiting from the absence of Russia, boosted their gold medal count to 13.

Then came the rout of Jamaica in London, where even Kenya has not been as dominating as before. Kenya is going home with just 5 gold medals while Jamaica has a measly count of 1 (O. McLeod in men's high hurdle race). What is happening? People are talking about a generational gap, the old champions ending their career in low-key performances while the young ones are not yet up to the task. But there is another, more pernicious thought. There have been repeatedly allegations as to the relaxed, laissez-faire, attitude of both the jamaican and the kenyan federations concerning doping. What if what we are observing today is also due to a more stringent enforcement of doping regulations? I do not wish to enter into such speculations since there is nothing tangible except for a few cases of doping offenses by jamaican sprinters. But one wonders.

In the meantime the US continue their progression. From 6 gold medals in Moscow and Beijing to 10 in London, not very far from their score at the Rio Olympics. All would have been well were it not for an article I stumbled upon on the site of "Sports Integrity Initiative" with title "US leads world in doping positives for first six months of 2017". It is based on a report from Movement for Credible Cycling which includes doping offenses from all sports. Athletics is number two in the list with 45 doping violations plus 13 more detected in retesting. Somehow I started feeling awkward about medal counts. And then reading Swift_Girl's twitter page I found a reference to an article in Daily Mail from which I picked out one sentence describing the interview of the winners of the men's 100 m.

"What follows tells you all you need to know about the grotesque dystopia that is modern athletics. All the stages of a sport's crushing defeat, all the stops on its descent, are mapped out in its exchanges".

Disconcerting thoughts, indeed.

PS. Some people are commenting that the sentence I am quoting above does not make much sense. I agree. One should read the whole article. But since I am giving the link that shouldn't be that hard. 

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