There are a lot of great athletes in the Olympics. They all desperately want to win. Some athletes cheat on purpose. Others cheat on accident. Most, I imagine, don’t cheat. All that matters in the end is one thing: did you get a medal or not?
I’m sure you’ve heard about the badminton players who were disqualified from Olympic competition for throwing matches. It started with Chinese Bad-duo Yu Yang and Wang Xiaoli. Yu and Wang had already qualified for the next round, and egregiously tanked their match in order to draw a more favorable (easier) opponent. They could have given a kingly, Olympic, fight-to-the-death effort. Had they done that and won, they would have advanced to face another talented Chinese team. Why would they want that? So they “disgraced” the whole Chinese nation by serving the shuttlecock dinkily and repeatedly into the net. The crowd booed. They paid good money for those seats! The Olympic Committee booted Yu and Wang from the games for their unsportswomanlike patheticism, and Badminton made the ESPN home page for the first time ever.
Also for the first time ever, someone (Yu) uttered this sorrowful lament: “Goodbye my beloved badminton.”
Clearly there is something screwed up about the Olympic badminton rules if there is any legitimate incentive for losing. I don’t blame the Chinese team for losing, or even for intentionally losing. I blame them for blatantly intentionally losing. If you’re going to lose on purpose, at least pretend, just a little, that you’re actually trying. Hey Yu, did you have to make it so obvious?
Yu took it out on the committee. “You mercilessly ruined our dream,” she said, “It’s unforgivable.”
Sorry, but Yu ruined your own dream. The bottom line is, Yu fucked up. Yu should have known. It’s not cheating if Yu don’t get caught.
Moving on. A similar, yet completely different, situation.
In the middle of the 800m track race, Algeria’s Taeufik Makhloufi quit running. He just stopped. Makhloufi was temporarily disqualified from the Olympics for poor effort, but reinstated when one of his doctors wrote a note saying he had suffered an injury. The very next day Makhloufi, looking sprightly as ever, blew out the field to comfortably win gold in the 1500m.
If you’re going to skip school, you don’t just not go, you forge your parent’s signature! DUH. Makhloufi wasn’t feeling it in the 800m. He got off to a slow start and didn’t want to tire himself out for the 1500m race he was the favorite to win. Perhaps he wasn’t bullshitting. Perhaps he really did recover from his quit-inducing injury in less than a day. More likely he didn’t try. But I congratulate the Algerian for his gold medal regardless, because he HAS one. He did what he had to do. He knew: If you’re going to cut corners, don’t leave the scissors behind. In other words, if you’re going to make up bullshit, make sure the shit comes from an actual bull and not a Chinese female badminton player.
How far would you go to win? Would you lose to win? Would you quit to win? Would you CRASH to win? That’s what British cyclist Philip Hindes did. The Brits got off to a bad start in the team bike sprint, and Hindes crashed on purpose to force a re-start. (Apparently, if someone crashes, they restart.) So they restarted the race, the Brits started strong and whaddaya know, they won. After the race, Hindes slipped up and admitted that his wipeout went according to a pre-planned team strategy. But yo, Phil, you’re not supposed to say that, dude. Of course Hindes awkwardly ammended his statement and pulled a Makhloufi. He lied. He said it was just an oopsie. Ignore what I said before, I couldn’t think straight. My knee hurt. Because I fell. Accidentally. It was pathetic but, at the same time, smart. That was all his home country, the Host country, needed to put an end to the controversy and keep the medals on their own soil.
The Olympics are like NASCAR. I want to see flames. I want to see bodies, aflame. I want to see the German 3m springboarder land flat on his back. I want to see the Egyptian weightlifter drop a 131kg barbell on her chest and be rushed to the hospital. I want to make fun of the rower with the boner on the podium. I want CHEATERS! Off with their heads! Scum of Olympia, I summon you! Walk the plank! No one expected you to perform like that. Clearly you have been taking performance enhancing drugs! Don’t lie. Don’t try to cover it up. We can all see: You have way too many red blood cells.
I refer to teenage swimming sensation Ye Shiwen, of China. According to an AP article, “she was so fast in the last 50 meters of the 400 medley that her time was quicker than that of men’s gold medalist Ryan Lochte over the same leg.” Faster than Lochte! You take steroids, don’t you, Ye? ADMIT IT!
God forbid somebody just does a really good job. Ye’s coach was rightfully irate at the American media’s accusation that Ye was guilty of doping. He correctly pointed out that Ye had tested negative on all her drug tests, and therefore such claims were totally bunk. To prove his point even further, the coach accused Michael Phelps of doping. Okay. Fine. I get your point. She’s not a cheater. But she’s Chinese, and they cheated at Badminton, so she’s a cheater by association.
Drug test? That’s nothing. You could be forced to take a gender verification test like female 800m runner Caster Semenya, of South Africa. Semenya was subjected to the sex test after her victory in the 2009 World Championships. The track and field powers-that-be essentially said, she’s so good, she has to be a man. That’s either sexist or racist or both; it’s surely humiliating. Good for her; she won silver in the 800m in London. Still, for the rest of her life the “thing” about Semenya is not “World Champion” or “Olympic Silver-Medalist,” it’s “Might Have Been A Man Once.” Because you can’t be great and play by the rules unless you’re American.
Mmhmmm. USA basketball routed Nigeria 156-73. They scored, like, 100 points more than Nigeria. They made the Nigerian men look like Nigerian children. One reporter accused Team USA of running up the score. I would bet the reporter who made that accusation was not American. Running up the score?!? Over here where the deer and the antelope play we call that WINNING. What is the alternative to “running up the score”? You want China and Algeria to try harder, but USA to pump the brakes? I can just imagine Coach K calling a 20-second timeout, walking over to the Nigerian bench and passing out Capri-Suns and apple slices. “Pacific Cooler, or Wild Cherry?”
Everybody’s looking for somebody to blame. Jordyn Wieber of the US women’s gymnastics team blamed the quote-unquote system after failing to qualify for the individual all-around final. Only two gymnasts per country get spots, the American team happened to be stacked, and Wieber, with a solid but not stellar performance in the qualifier, missed the cut. Jordyn, I don’t know what to tell you. Maybe next time, I donno, no promises here but uhhh….DO BETTER.
Ditto to you, Canadian women’s soccer team. Don’t blame the referees. We saw that Canunt cleat Carli Lloyd in the face. That should have been a red card. You’re right, none of that matters now. The game’s over. Our medals are made of gold. Yours are made of hockey puck. Cry me a maple leaf.
You didn’t lose because of the refs. You lost because you didn’t cheat enough! You should have been more like South African swimmer Cameron van der Burgh. Cam won the gold medal in the 100m breast stroke. Good job, Cam. How’d you do it? Cam: “I cheated.” Yes, he admitted it. He admitted he did an illegal extra “dolphin kick” (you’re only allowed two), but made a fair point when he added that “everybody does it.” After quelling an uproar from the Aussie runner-up, Killa Cam got to keep his medal, proving that being full of cheat and being full of shit can indeed be mutually exclusive.
When athletes train for the Olympics, they aren’t training for respect. They’re training for medals. Sometimes people cheat and get away with it. That’s unfortunate, but true. If you know you have to cheat to win, I would recommend either cheating without getting caught, or not competing at all. Getting caught cheating and losing are both simply out of the question. If you don’t know for sure you have to cheat to win, by all means, play fair.
Don’t be former-gold-medalist Italian racewalker Alex Schwazer. Alex made the dumbest mistake of all: He became a professional speedwalker. I keed, I keed. Thirsty to defend his title, the very-fast-walker took Erythropoietin, or EPO, an endurance-boosting blood-doper of the Floyd Landis kind. Swayze, shockingly, tested positive for EPO! He broke down in tears of shame and relief. What was he thinking? He had to have known he was going to get tested, right? While we’re at it with the blood test, let’s get Schwazer a sex test too. That man has no balls.
We’ve got our loser cheaters, our liar cheaters, our accused cheaters and our drug-abused cheaters. We’ve got our barely cheaters and our blatant cheaters, our hometown cheaters and our low-down cheaters. We’ve got cheaters of all shapes, sizes, colors, and breeds. But there’s one more kind of cheater we haven’t discussed yet. My personal favorite kind of cheater:
The accidental-pot-brownie-eater cheater.
I present to you: American Judo wrestler Nick Delpopolo.
Poor Nick. He said he was “shocked” when he received word from the IOC that his drug test came back positive for Tetrahydrocannabinol aka THC aka Marijuana. He claimed he was just snacking on some delicious brownies with a (now unmentionable) family member a couple weeks before the Olympics began. When he started feeling tingly all over, he thought he was just exhausted from so much Judo training.
I actually believe this story. Nicholas doesn’t strike me as the Alex Schwazer, Italian slimeball/idiot type. A couple things, though: 1. If you’re friends with an Olympian, and that Olympian accidentally eats your weed brownies, at least go to GNC and buy your Olympian friend some urine-purifier or whathaveyou. And 2. Let this be a lesson to all wannabe Olympians: careful with the company you keep, and the edibles you eat.
How does Nick Delpopolo’s crime stack up against the aforementioned Olympic infidelities? It’d be one thing if his cousin accidentally fed him an EPO brownie. He ate some weed. Why is marijuana even a banned substance in the Olympics? Who cares!? Since when does ganja give you super-human body-slamming powers? We’re talking about Judo here, not MarioKart! It’s not like Nick was caught Phelpsing with bong in hand. He was hungry. He wanted some dessert. He ate some chocolate and he went to sleep. I forgive you, Nicky.
After witnessing all of these Olympic scandals, I don’t know who to trust anymore. Did you watch any equestrian events this summer? Have you seen dressage? It’s dubbed “horse ballet.” The human riders guide their horses without speaking, using only subtle gestures of hand and heel. I can’t even watch dressage without thinking, “that horse is on something.” It wouldn’t surprise me if the IOC mandated drug tests for horses too. They may do that already. I can see it now: That mare is acting quite obediently this afternoon. Somebody get her tested for performance enhancing hay! Trot the plank!
I don’t care about archery. I have no interest in handball. I couldn’t care less about rowing. I hardly watch the Olympics to watch sports. (I do not consider table tennis a sport.) I care about two things: who wins, and who chokes. If you’re not on the podium, you’re dead to me. Unless you cheated, or might have, in which case, paradoxically, you matter.
It’s time for me to sign off. GNC closes soon. Congrats again to everyone with an Olympic medal. You understand that reaching the podium takes more than athletic skill and valor. It takes not only discovering loopholes but anticipating all the ways your shuttlecock might get stuck in them. If someone accuses you of cheating, shut them up by winning. And if the opposing coach passes you a Capri-Sun, don’t drink it!