22 Jan 2022

Is it too much to expect a clean Olympics?

The build-up has been good and doubtless the event itself will be even better.

The build-up has been good and doubtless the event itself will be even better.

Let’s hope that in their aftermath the Olympics won’t have anyone, a winner or loser, being stood down for drug-taking. It’s a long-shot, though.

The 2012 renewal of the greatest games in the world has a London setting. It’s the third time England’s capital has played host, 1948 being the time before this and 1908 the first. The opening ceremony takes place tomorrow, and it will be on August 12 when the last of the gold medals are presented.

More athletes of integrity than cheats have competed and won. Somehow, it’s the wrongdoers who make the biggest headlines. Ben Johnson lowered the 100 metres title-holder, the great Carl Lewis’ - colours at the Seoul Games and after that the reputation of athletics. He was stripped of his medal and banned for two years when he was found to have been administered an anabolic steroid.

There was shock, not to mention horror; but the banning of such a high profile athlete hasn’t stopped others from running the same race as Johnson in the 24 years since.

Ireland has had its share of controversy over the years. Swimmer, Michelle Smith, won three Golds and a Bronze at Atlanta in 1996, and while she didn’t fail a drugs test, she received a four-year ban from the sport for tampering with a urine sample. And at the 2004 Games in Athens, Cian O’Connor steered Waterford Crystal to victory in show-jumping, but the horse was found to have been administered an illegal substance, and O’Connor has his Gold taken off him.

But away with all this talk of those who done believe in abiding by the rules. The greatest in the world in 42 disciplines, one of them covering athletics in all its forms, will be competing.

64 of them will wear the Irish logo, and of these it’s boxer, Katie Taylor, who stands the best chance of taking Gold. Another pugilist, Michael Carruth, was supreme one Saturday morning, 20 years ago.

Baron Coubertin wouldn’t have had competitors who’ve made millions from their sport in mind when he founded the Modern Olympics back in the late 1800s, but that’s the way it is, the likes of Roger Federer among those going for Gold.

Those iron-men who’ve cycled 2,000 miles in three weeks in the Tour de France - Ireland’s Nicolas Roche and Dan Martin among them - won’t have had time to rest their aching limbs when they’ll be back on their bikes again. And Michael Phelps will be making another big splash in the pool.

Then there’s Usain Bolt. No-one has ever run faster over the 100 metres, yet there’s the suggestion the Jamaican thunderbolt could be beaten.

Not a chance.

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