After recently embarking on a Netflix binge, I stumbled across a documentary titled, Icarus, and immediately remembered that a friend had highly recommended this to me. So, as we all do, I overindulged in another Netflix doco (yes, there was chocolate involved) and was in disbelief about the corruption encountered in the infamous Olympic Games. And it got me thinking, am I that surprised that one of the most powerful country’s in the world are rorting the system when it comes to a world event? Not really, because it has almost become a societal norm that athletes will dope to better their performance in the games.
If you are unaware of the documentary Icarus, stop what you’re doing and raid your cupboard for some snacks, because you’re in for a long ride! In summary, filmmaker Bryan Fogel documents his mission to learn about performance enhancing drugs in sport, and along the way, unknowingly stumbles upon a Russian scandal (surprising? I think not) that involved a state-sponsored doping program, facilitated by the man himself, Putin, for The Olympic Games.
The first modern Olympic Games took place in Athens in 1896, which featured 280 participants from 13 nations around the world, competing in 43 events. Between 1968 and 1992, 15 Olympic participants were stripped of their medals as a result of doping allegations. Recently, the International Olympic Committee reanalysed 1,000 samples from the 2008 Beijing Olympics and 2012 London Olympics and a staggering 98 samples came back positive, with 49 samples belonging to athletes who were awarded medals at those games. 19 of those belonging to Russia.
C’mon Russia… What happened to playing by the rules?
Without a doubt, the drugs in sport epidemic has reached new heights, with elite athletes going to great lengths to cheat the system for a chance at gold. It’s sad to say that, over the years, doping has somewhat become a societal norm and has turned into a crisis of Idealism. The original motive behind The Olympic Games has eroded into a race to the top in the most un-professional and non-sportsmanlike way.
As the documentary went on, I started to think longer and harder about the doping scandal and the idea of Idealism versus Realism were two worlds apart. For majority of the 20th century, elite athletes were fair, professional and played by the rules – there was no material gain by athletes when winning. And Russia are certainly all about that #material #gains.
It has become a logistical nightmare for not only those caught up in the Russian scandal, but also the International Olympic Committee, as their procedures and policies are so obviously outdated and inefficient, that it has changed the way sport is perceived in general.
Athletes commonly turn to banned substances to gain competitive advantage or to cope with factors relating to stress, pressure to perform, injuries and pain – some of which the IOC have unsuccessfully acknowledged athletes using and taking the substances.
The IOC was once the leader, with new testing procedures in the 1960s that lead to the first list of banned substances to be released for The Olympic Games. However, over time the list has grown to complex proportions with now ten categories of banned method or substance, and since expanded in response to athletes using masking agents. A perfect example of material gains.
Whether I’m watching a documentary about Russia’s doping scandal or reading a news article about athletes being stripped of their medals due to doping, the idea of The Olympic Games will never be the same until the societal norm of doping is broken.