Uncle Volodya says, “What will the preachers say to teach men not to persecute men? For, while a few sanctimonious humbugs are burning a few fanatics, the earth opens and swallows up all alike.”
Before we get started, a moment of silence, please, for Mitt Romney, who collapsed and died on Tuesday following his fourth consecutive multiple orgasm of vindication, at A.R. Valentin’s restaurant in La Jolla, California. His dinner companions did not notice at first that Mr. Romney had fallen off his chair, all having raised their eyes to the ceiling and chorused “America’s foremost geopolitical enemy!!!” to complete Mr. Romney’s statement, “I told them Russia was…” because they had all heard it at least a hundred times that day.
No, seriously, of course, Mitt Romney is not dead. In fact, he must be on top of the world; after all, he is America’s foremost psychic seer – he knew Russia would be America’s acknowledged geopolitical foe before anyone else did except for the very core of the corporate elite who run the country. Back when he said it, though, in 2012, his presidential opponent – Barack Obama – ridiculed him. “A few months ago, when you were asked what’s the biggest geopolitical threat facing America, you said Russia. Not al Qaeda; you said Russia,” the president said. “The 1980s are now calling to ask for their foreign policy back because, you know, the Cold War’s been over for 20 years.”
Funny old world, innit? Then, Obama fancied al Qaeda was America’s greatest geopolitical foe, and now they’re allies, united by the common imperative of overthrowing the President of Syria. Politics makes strange bedfellows; my, yes, ne’er a truer word was spoken. Well, Barack Obama might be slow to catch on, but he’s making up for lost time – demonization of Russia now goes on all day long, day in, day out, on every front, and no sector is too unimportant for The Land Of The Free to denigrate Russia’s efforts in that direction, and to paint its people as liars, cheats and savages. Not even during the sullen night watches of the Cold War was the rhetoric so corrosive and inflammatory, or the call to arms so strident. All, all is now subordinated to politics and the catechism of contempt and exclusion. Russia is the enemy, and whom the Gods would cast down, they first make inhuman.
The latest bear-baiting arena is international sport, as Washington goes all-out on cementing the impression that Russian athletes could not win an apple-bobbing contest unless they were high as kites, doped to the eyeballs. It’s not hard to see where this is going – exclusion of Russian athletes from the next Olympic Games, perhaps a permanent ban, and the degradation of Russian athletic performance in the past by implication. Nothing strategic about it, and it wouldn’t gain Americans anything other than an imaginary moral victory – it’s just more of the small-minded meanness that has grown to characterize American global relations.
Do-gooder America presents Russia with an exquisite choice: admit you are a nation of serial cheaters and take your adjudicated punishment – which might consist of being banned from Olympic competition for a time, as well as the stripping of all medals won under what the western ‘independent’ investigative team finds were achieved under ‘suspicious’ circumstances – then go forth and sin no more. Or cling to your pathetic protestations of innocence, and be found guilty in spite of them. Heads I win, tails you lose.
I am led to two observations – one, this is an opinion article. What is the purpose, really, of an opinion page in a newspaper? Don’t readers buy a newspaper for news, which they can reasonably expect to be the truth based on research? Suspend for a moment your certain knowledge that much of what appears in the newspaper under the banner of ‘news’ is often lies and fakery as well – what is the place in a newspaper for the blather of someone whose message is, “This is what I think about it, based on factors other than a true appreciation for contemporary global events”, presented in a format which suggests it is news? Couldn’t there be, like, a magazine or a periodical of some sort that was all opinion for the non-facts crowd, and newspapers be reserved for actual news? Oh, wait: I just described every book Ed Lucas has ever written.
Article within an article
By JERÉ LONGMAN JULY 30, 2012
The Chinese swimmer Ye Shiwen, 16, is one of the youngest competitors in the Olympics and so far the most remarkable. CreditDoug Mills/The New York Times
LONDON — At 16, the Chinese swimmer Ye Shiwen is one of the youngest competitors in the Olympics and so far the most remarkable. What she has done in the pool is the water-based equivalent of what Usain Bolt did on the track four years ago in Beijing.
On Saturday night, Ye not only shattered the world record in the 400 individual medley, winning gold in 4 minutes 28.43 seconds, she also swam the final 50 meters faster than Ryan Lochte did in winning the men’s race. On Monday, Ye returned to the pool and set an Olympic record of 2:08.39 in the semifinals of the 200 individual medley, her best event.
There is nothing to indicate that she is anything more than a great swimmer from a country that holds about a fifth of the world’s population, a teenager who relies on the latest scientific training and the kind of adolescent certainty that makes her unaware of any limitations. The Chinese have pledged to obey the rules. And Ye dismissed any concerns about doping.
Yet women’s swimming does not permit itself naïve and untempered adulation. Not after the systematic East German doping of the 1970s and ’80s. Not after Chinese scandals in the 1990s. Not after Michelle Smith of Ireland won four medals at the Atlanta Games in 1996 under disputed circumstances and was later barred from competition for tampering with a urine sample.
The response to unsurpassed achievement now falls somewhere uncomfortably between amazement and incredulity, that gray area between celebration and suspicion.
“That’s pretty unbelievable,” David Sharpe, a Canadian swimmer, said of Ye’s finishing kick on Saturday, in which she covered her final 50 meters in 28.93, faster than Lochte’s 29.10. “No one really understands how that happened.”
Ye swam her final 100 meters of the 400 I.M. in 58.68 seconds. Lochte was only three-hundredths of a second faster. No one could immediately remember a woman closing faster than 61 seconds.
“Insane,” said Stephanie Rice of Australia, the 2008 Olympic champion and former world-record holder in the 400 I.M. “Fifty-eight is out of control.”
Lochte made a cordial joke about being outkicked. On Monday, Michael Phelps, who finished fourth in the men’s 400 I.M., smiled at a question about Ye’s closing speed and said: “She almost outswam me, too. We were all pretty shocked. It’s pretty impressive that she went that fast.”
No swimmers accused Ye, who is 5 feet 8 inches and weighs 141 pounds, of using illicit substances to fuel her kick. Medalists and, at random, other athletes are tested at the Games.
But John Leonard, an American who is executive director of the World Swimming Coaches Association and has long voiced suspicions of doping in China, told The Guardian on Monday that he found Ye’s performance “disturbing.”
Caitlin Leverenz, an American who finished third in Ye’s heat in the 200 on Monday, said: “The Chinese have had a history in the past of doping, so I don’t think people are crazy to point fingers, but I don’t think that’s my job to do right now. I’m just trying to do my best.”
Ye Shiwen, 16, of China in the 200-meter individual medley, July 30. 2012
Frank Busch, national team director for USA Swimming, was more gracious, calling Ye’s final 100 meters on Saturday “more than remarkable, phenomenal.”
Was he concerned that what Ye had done was not legitimate?
“I would never go there,” Busch said.
Instead, he mentioned Bolt of Jamaica, who had seldom run 100 meters before the 2008 Beijing Games but shattered records in the 100, the 200 and the 4x100-meter relay. There must be room left, Busch suggested, for success built solely on talent, coaching, ambition and the wonder of youth.
“These kids work really hard,” he said. “I don’t know what the Chinese are doing. But I don’t think anybody saw Usain Bolt running that fast in 2008.There are times you have phenoms coming up that surprise you with what they can do.”
Busch did not mention her name, but Janet Evans was once one of those phenoms. At the 1988 Seoul Olympics, Evans, then 17, outswam even the East Germans and won three gold medals. She was fully embraced, while Ye faces public skepticism. Many will find that unfair. Perhaps it is.
Yet China has brought uncertainty upon itself. Ye has never tested positive for banned substances. But in the 1980s and ’90s, according to news accounts, more than 50 Chinese swimmers did. Seven were caught by a surprise test at the 1994 Asian Games in Hiroshima, Japan. One swimmer, Yuan Yuan, was caught with 13 vials of human growth hormone at the 1998 world championships in Perth, Australia.
There has long been a debate about whether doping in China was state-sponsored or directed by individual coaches. A former chief doctor for the Chinese gymnastics team told The Sydney Morning Herald last week that in the 1980s, it was state-sponsored.
Some say embarrassment over doping scandals led China to scrutinize its athletes more carefully. In any case, the dominance of China’s female swimmers in the mid-1990s has ebbed. China won only one gold medal in swimming at each of the past two Olympics, including the 2008 Beijing Games.
Already, it has won two in London. This follows a recent report by the official Xinhua News Agency that in March, a 16-year-old swimmer named Li Zhesi, a former relay champion, tested positive for the blood-boosting drug EPO. Though Ye’s achievement may once have brought only commemoration, it now comes with questions.
According to state-run news outlets, Chinese coaches and athletes have taken an oath to remain clean. Some athletes are even said to be avoiding meat, fearing it might be tainted with a banned substance, clenbuterol.
“There’s absolutely no problem with doping,” Ye said Monday in translated remarks. “The Chinese team has always had a firm policy about anti-doping.”
Ye began swimming at 7 and was placed in a sports school in Hangzhou in eastern China. By 14 she began making national and international waves. Last year, Ye won a world title in the 200 I.M. She has also trained in Australia, where Chinese swimmers say they are free from grinding monotony.
“In China, we are always used to just train, train, train, study, study, study and get some rest,” said Lu Ying, who won a silver medal Sunday in the women’s 100 butterfly. “Our way of thinking has many limits. And we are bound by them. But in Australia, I can be invited to a barbecue or a breakfast. In China, that never happens.”
Ye has repeatedly said hard work, not a banned substance, has made her a champion. “If the coach asks me to practice 10,000 meters,” she told The Beijing Morning News, “I would never be lazy to swim 9,900 meters instead.”
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The alliteratively-named Travis T. Tygart is not a journalist, reporter or researcher. He is Chief Executive of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency. As such, unless he joined the organization last week, he has a comprehensive knowledge of my second observation, which is that a stern dressing-down for cheating in competitive sports might not be so tough to take if it didn’t come from the representative of a nation legendary for cheating in competitive sports. The message is that Russia cannot be allowed to compete with decent, upstanding nations of honest sportsmen until it admits that most or all of its victories were the result of drug-addled cheating, and submits to an American-led review of its medals to see which it might be allowed to keep. So let’s take a look at that.
Right out of the gate, Mr. Tygart labels himself a lover of clean sport, as his readers presumably all are too unless they are Russians. Tygart was obviously not around in 1904, to see an American become the first recorded instance of doping in the Olympics. Fred Lorz, the American ‘winner’ of the brutal Olympic marathon, rode for 11 miles of the course in an automobile, running the last 5 miles to enter the stadium in triumph well ahead of his competitors. His cheating was quickly exposed (just as President Roosevelt’s daughter, Alice, was about to lower the gold medal over his head), and the medal awarded to the next runner, American Thomas Hicks – who had been fed a concoction of egg whites and strychnine, frequently used in small doses in those unenlightened days as a stimulant. But that was not illegal then, so the win was considered fair.
admitted that he owed all seven championships and millions of dollars in endorsements to blood doping and use of performance-enhancing drugs. Not only that, in October 2013 the same agency Mr. Tygart heads up exposed the systemic use of performance-enhancing drugs by Armstrong and 11 of his teammates, with the full knowledge and support of coaches and help of team physicians. Is it possible that USADA blew the whistle when it was no longer possible for the deception to go on? It seems hard to believe the cheating included the entire team and their training support, for a decade, and nobody at USADA knew anything. And if it’s true, why the fuck should they be allowed any input to international standards now? You obviously could not send them to test for curry in an Indian takeaway with any hope that they would find it.....read- moreObviously, that has little bearing on modern competitive sport except for historical value and to establish the provenance of American cheating; doping was crude then and you certainly didn’t have to have any scientific skill to spot it. But testing had still not evolved to the selective zealotry it is today – the sporting world was still in that middle zone where you might get away with it, if you lied earnestly enough, attacked your accusers vehemently enough, or your country’s Olympic Committee helpfully covered up for you and manipulated the rules to your advantage. Several cases fell into this category, probably the most famous being seven-time Tour de France cycling champion and national icon Lance Armstrong. After years of denying and attacking his accusers, Armstrong
Always remember the limits which goys set for themselves. Their thinking has stagnated within these limits, and they are unable to go beyond them. Therein lies their misfortune and our advantage. Speak and act in a way which their morality and their concepts do not permit.
Do things which seem to them to be impossible and incredible. They will not believe that you are capable of words and actions of which they are not capable.
Speak and act in a way which is confident, energetic, aggressive, discouraging and stunning. Produce more noise and oral trumpery, and say more things which are incomprehensible and pseudo-scientific.