Thursday, December 6, 2012

The Olympics are meaningless

Interesting story in NYT today about how an American who won silver at the 2004 Athens games may now take the gold. Why? Retroactive drug testing:
Doping protocols allow for officials to store samples for eight years and retest them for substances they may not have been able to detect at the time the sample was taken. When Bilonog’s sample was analyzed in 2004 at the Olympics, the results were negative, doping officials said. Eight years later, with new tests at their disposal, officials decided to re-examine about 100 samples from the Athens Games, focusing on certain sports and medalists.
I'm kind of at the point that I don't care about athletes doping—I suspect that it's so widespread that it's no longer a competitive advantage, but rather a leveling of a dope-saturated playing field. I don't think that makes the competition that much less interesting: The drugs can't make the human body do more than it's capable of, ultimately.

The testing protocol might actually do more damage to the Olympics. What this means is that every competition you watch, the results are only provisional—and will remain so for up to a decade. The agony of defeat? The thrill of victory? Well, sure, as long as an asterisk is placed on each gold medal, a disclaimer read before every playing of the national anthem, noting that the results won't be official and final for another eight years. That sure seems to diminish the moment of competition.

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