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Editorial: will public shame save fair play?

COMMENT PRINT ARTICLE
PHOTO: Urmas Nemvalts

There's the written rules and there's the cultural aspect. First of all, fair play is based on the rules of the event itself, as well as banned substance list and the various penalties for violations thereof. But without explicit condemnation of doping within the domain and in public, even the written rules may not work and the fight against doping users proves vain.

Perhaps, the Rio de Janeiro Olympics prove a breaking point to significantly alter attitudes towards the sinners. A sportsman, though legally past the penalty, cannot de facto start over clean afterwards. At least not as easy as before, it seems.

With the Russian team escaping a blanket ban despite the national doping scheme uncovered, self regulation kicked in, in Rio, hitting the Russian swimmer and earlier doping user Julia Jefimova booed by the spectators and told off by Lilly King (USA).

Perhaps seen as overreaction, perhaps this is purely a sportsman loving the event and wishing for it to carry popularity. Whoever ignores the rules, however, damages not himself only, but the event and top sports as such.

For the public, the issue arises: why watch the competition as afterwards the picture will look totally different and the emotions witnessed will look phoney.

«With the shadow of Ben Johnson still hovering over athletics, people view sports different after him,» bitterly admitted four time Olympic winner Michael Johnson. Having triumphed by anabolic steroids in Seoul at 100 metre dash and caught afterwards, Ben Johnson shocked Canada and the world. Still, the scandals have continued.

The foul play will always be with us. Hopefully, Rio will enter history as a step towards clean and honest top sports.

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