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Not just what's happening in and around the Olympic Movement and International Sports but what it all means.
Seems like it was only earlier this year that a great many voices were being heard to the effect that the World Anti-Doping Agency, and in particular its president, Craig Reedie, and director general, Olivier Niggli, were ineffective and caught up in this or that conflict of interest.
Now WADA has obtained (via a whistleblower) an electronic file that it says contains “all testing data” from Russia’s national doping lab conducted from January 2012 to August 2015. That’s thought to be thousands of drug tests run on Russian athletes.
Kudos to WADA and, as well, to Reedie and Niggli.
With the file in hand, WADA on Thursday declined to lift its suspension of the Russian Anti-Doping Agency.
At issue now is whether the Russians should take part — under the Russian flag, wearing the Russian colors, hearing the Russian anthem — in the 2018 Winter Games in PyeongChang, South Korea.
MARRAKECH, Morocco — A couple weeks ago, it made headlines worldwide when the Israeli judo team was singled out at an International Judo Federation Grand Slam stop in Abu Dhabi.
The United Arab Emirates banned Israeli athletes from wearing their nation’s symbols, the blue and white colors and the Star of David, on their uniforms; the Israeli flag was not displayed; the Israeli national anthem was not to be played.
What drew comparatively little attention, meanwhile, were the gestures and photos, published on the IJF website, that wrapped up the tournament: Israeli under-100 kilo bronze medalist Peter Paltchik with the UAE Judo Federation president, His Excellency Mohammad Bin Thaloub Al Darei, and Aref Al-Awani, general secretary of the Abu Dhabi Sports Council, the three of them arm in arm; and Israel Judo Association president Moshe Ponte, IJF president Marius Vizer, Al Darei and Naser Al-Tameemi, general secretary of the UAE Judo, Wrestling and Kickboxing Federation, all four hand-to-hand, as if they were breaking a huddle, U.S.-football style.
Along with the photos, there were also apologies — that a UAE athlete, after a loss, had not shaken hands with an Israeli on the tatami, as a judo mat is called.
And congratulations, too — to the Israelis for winning five medals.
There are 206 National Olympic Committees across our world. You know, Earth. The big blue ball that the NBA basketball star Kyrie Irving maybe thinks is flat.
All the committees in good standing (read: not suspended) get together once a year. It's a big deal. Because of the sheer size of it, it's arguably the biggest-deal meeting of the Olympic year.
It happened this week in Prague.
What a waste of a big-deal opportunity.
Wednesday marked 100 days to go until the opening of the 2018 Olympic Winter Games in PyeongChang, South Korea, and once again the International Olympic Committee made it as clear as the sort of ice that makes like a frozen sheet of glass in a mountain lake that the Russians will — as they should be — be at those Games.
So much noise in so many U.S. and other western media outlets about whether or not the Russians will, or won’t, be at the Games. So much political pandering from so many anti-doping agencies whose officials either assuredly do or, for that matter, should know better.
The Olympics are about inclusion. Full stop.
The Russians will be in Korea.
For several weeks now, the internet has been abuzz with stories about the prospect of pole dancing becoming an Olympic sport. Some of the more absurd accounts, like this one posted Tuesday on something called Medical Daily (what?), breathlessly declare that it is “possibly headed to 2020,” meaning the next edition of the Summer Games, in Tokyo.
A “sport” that is irrevocably linked to strippers has no chance. Say that again, and out loud: a “sport” that makes most people snicker, or worse, because of the obvious, blatant and in-your-face connotation is not going to be in the Olympics. For sure not 2020. Not -- ever.
There is one reason, and one reason only, these clickbait stories are making the rounds. Can you say — word being used on purpose here — titillating?
Here is a multiple-choice quiz. When someone says, “No way, dude,” is he or she referring to the odds of success of:
a) That oiled-up guy from Tonga who walked in the opening ceremony at the Rio 2016 Summer Games, Pita Taufatofua, suddenly appearing in the same outfit at the top of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Games halfpipe to announce, as he locks himself into snowboard boots, that he will now throw down — watch out, Shaun White — an unprecedented trick involving corks, flips and other head-spinning gyrations;
b) George McGovern running for president of the United States in 1972;
c) Any city in Europe winning a ballot referendum on the notion of staging the Summer or Winter Olympics;
d) All of the above.
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About Alan Abrahamson
Alan Abrahamson is an award-winning sportswriter, best-selling author and in-demand television analyst. In 2010, he launched his own website, 3 Wire Sports, described in James Patterson and Mark Sullivan's 2012 best-selling novel Private Games as "the world's best source of information about the [Olympic] Games and the culture that surrounds them." Read full bio.