A gas mask-wearing runner at Sunday's Beijing Marathon // photo Getty Images

A gas mask-wearing runner at Sunday's Beijing Marathon // photo Getty Images

IOC

Time for IOC leadership, not lip service

Friendship, excellence and respect — these are the key values underpinning the mission of the International Olympic Committee, indeed the Olympic enterprise worldwide. Moreover, the IOC likes to say that athletes are at the center of everything everyone in the Olympic movement does.

Two episodes over the weekend raise serious questions about whether both are true, or just so much lip service. And with the IOC’s policy-making executive board meeting later this week in Switzerland, the issue becomes what — if anything — the IOC is going to do about it.

ISA president Fernando Aguerre

ISA president Fernando Aguerre

IOC

Hey, IOC, let’s go surfing — now

Hard to believe but snowboarding, which is basically now the it-sport of the Winter Games, has been on the program only since 1998. It has really been a big deal only since 2002, when halfpipe took off.

The International Olympic Committee has had one undisputed big winner in recent years at the Summer Games: beach volleyball. BMX? Kinda. The real ticket is at the beach, with the hard bodies in their bikinis or board shorts and the California-cool, surfer-dude lifestyle.

Norway's Petter Northug at the Sochi Games // photo Getty Images

Norway's Petter Northug at the Sochi Games // photo Getty Images

Swimming

The Phelps suspension: why the rush to judgment?

Cross-country ski champion Petter Northug was sentenced last Thursday in court in Norway to 50 days behind bars after being convicted of drunk driving. Which brings us to Michael Phelps, the 24/7 media spin cycle we live in and the rush to judgment that led to the significant suspension USA Swimming levied against Phelps for his recent DUI arrest in Baltimore.

What was to be gained by USA Swimming rushing to this judgment? More — what was lost by waiting?

Former Baltimore Ravens defensive back Ed Reed, left, with Michael Phelps at M&T Bank Stadium last month // photo Getty Images

Former Baltimore Ravens defensive back Ed Reed, left, with Michael Phelps at M&T Bank Stadium last month // photo Getty Images

Swimming

What’s next for Michael Phelps

Michael Phelps is not a bad guy. Let’s start there. In fact, he’s a really, really good guy. He cares — deeply — about his family, his coaches, the people who have been with him for years, his hometown, his country and his sport. He is, genuinely, great with kids. He is, truly, a normal guy who found a genius for swimming and competing.

By driving drunk, according to the allegations levied against him by the authorities in Maryland, Michael made a really bad mistake. Perhaps the hardest piece: Michael has said many, many times, often to audiences of kids, that it’s OK to make a mistake — the trick is not to make the same mistake twice. Now, in the wake of his DUI problem 10 years ago, he has made the very same mistake, all over again.

A scene before the men's team ski jump event at the Asian Winter Games in 2011 in Almaty, Kazakhstan // photo Getty Images

A scene before the men's team ski jump event at the Asian Winter Games in 2011 in Almaty, Kazakhstan // photo Getty Images

IOC

2022: sport, politics, irony

Here is the definition of irony. The International Olympic Committee has spent a great deal of this past year building bridges between the worlds of sport and politics. Then the government of Norway decides not to bid for the 2022 Winter Games. So what does the IOC do?

It issues a statement in which it opts not for its usual measured tones in assessing the Norwegian government and political establishment. The release calls the Norwegian decision a “missed opportunity.” It says the Norwegians didn’t come to a meeting — that the Norwegians themselves asked for, the IOC notes — and thus the move to bow out of 2022 was taken on the “basis of half-truths and factual inaccuracies.”