Holy crap, I actually agree with Dick Pound.

“I believe that in the collective mind of a significant portion of the world, and among the athletes of the world, the I.O.C. has not only failed to protect athletes, but has made it possible for cheating athletes to prevail against the clean athletes,” said [Richard “Dick”] Pound, the former president of the World Anti-Doping Agency.

“We talk more than we walk,” Pound added. He said the athletes and the public “no longer have confidence that their interests are being protected. Our commitment to both is in serious doubt. With respect, I don’t think we can talk our way out of this problem.”

With essentially hours to go until the opening ceremonies of the PyeongChang Winter Olympics, a number of Russian athletes are still trying to get included in their events. Almost two years after the IOC banned Russian athletes from the 2016 Rio Olympics, a battle is still being fought over which Russian athletes can participate.

So far about 160 athletes are going to be able to participate as “Olympic Athletes from Russia.” A number of others are still awaiting the results of rulings from the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS). Those rulings should occur about 8 p.m. Central time, which is 11 a.m. tomorrow in PyeongChang. If all of the appeals were granted, that would account for about 207 Russian athletes competing in Korea over the next couple of weeks.  Update: At about 8:48 p.m. last night, the CAS issued a statement saying that the appeals for 47 athletes and coaches had been denied, so the number of Russian athletes competing will not change from the 160 or so who are currently slated to participate.

Thomas Bach, the president of the IOC, passed the buck as far as appeals go. From the same New York Times article as the quote above:

“The timing there was not in our hands,” Thomas Bach, the president of the International Olympic Committee, said at a news conference Wednesday. “Studies had to be done, evidence had to be provided, fair hearings for the Russian athletes had to be offered.”

Sure, all of that may be true. But this is a story that’s been going on since May 2016. Surely that’s plenty of time to get everything sorted out.

It seems to me like a number of athletes are being punished for past sins. The IOC has known (or should have known) that an organized doping program was going on in Russia (and before that, the Soviet Union) for decades. Banning the entire country’s athletes makes it look like the IOC has taken a stand. Which they did, sort of. But then they allowed for a process to enable individuals to compete under a different banner.

So in essence, the Russian Olympic Committee is banned, but a number of their athletes will be participating in PyeongChang anyway. Yeah, I get it, this is “individual justice,” as Bach calls it, while also

describing Russia’s actions as an “unprecedented attack on the integrity of the Olympics.”

But let’s be real. The idea that Russia’s program is an “unprecedented attack” conveniently ignores the history of doping at the Olympics. East Germany had an organized program from the 1950s until the fall of the Berlin Wall. The USSR did, too. So if this is what Bach says, that attack has been going on for a long, long time. By ignoring these programs for so long, the IOC definitely made it possible for dirty athletes to win. Shame on them.

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Like Punxsutawney Phil, who will be dragged out of hibernation in about 4 weeks time in order to see his shadow under the klieg lights, thereby ensuring only 6 more weeks of winter, this blog is waking from its deep sleep, if only temporarily.

Turns out that today’s New York Times has a piece that suggests the Baseball Hall of Fame voters are going a bit squishy on whether or not to admit Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens into the Cooperstown shrine. David Waldstein reports that:

baseball writers who vote to decide who should be inducted into the Hall, and who should not, appear to be backing away from their punitive approach to Bonds and Clemens, and perhaps others as well.

It appears that some of the writers feel that if Bud Selig, the baseball commissioner who did precious little (read: nothing) to address the use of performance-enhancing drugs in the sport, and Tony La Russa, one of many managers whose teams benefited by players using such drugs, can somehow be enshrined in the museum, then Bonds and Clemens should, too.

All of it “just kind of struck a nerve with me,” said Kevin Cooney, a voter from The Courier Times in Bucks County, Pa.

“To me, it would be hypocritical to put the commissioner of the steroid era and a manager who had connections with the steroid era in and leave out the greatest pitcher and the greatest hitter of that time,” Cooney said in explaining why he had now decided to vote for Bonds and Clemens.

As another sportswriter puts it:

Steve Buckley of The Boston Herald said he pictured himself sitting in the audience at Cooperstown for future induction ceremonies and looking out at Selig and La Russa and others who he said benefited from the steroid era and wondering why the two best players of the time were barred.

“I’m not saying Bud turned a blind eye to it or that he knew it was happening,” Buckley said of the drug use under Selig’s watch. “I’m simply saying that Clemens and Bonds and others took the performance-enhancing drugs and did the steroids and all those evil things, and at the end of the day, the game did prosper, and they are on the outside looking in, and I have an issue with that.”

Ultimately, though, from my perspective, the issue is pretty cut-and-dried. Gordon Wittenmyer of The Chicago Sun-Times sums it up well:

[Wittenmyer] recalled that before his first vote a few years ago, when another tainted slugger, Mark McGwire, was still on the ballot, he described the voting process to his son, who was 12 at the time. Wittenmyer described each player’s biography and what he had seen from them up close as a writer. Then he explained the steroid issue.

“His response was, ‘Well, Dad, isn’t that cheating?’ And I said, ‘Yeah, it was,’” Wittenmyer said. “If that’s the easy conclusion a 12-year-old draws, it really is that simple.”

If I had a vote, I’d vote the way Wittenmyer votes. Without the steroids, Bonds’ and Clemens’ accomplishments would not have been nearly so great, and very likely wouldn’t have elevated them to Hall of Fame status (though that is an entirely debatable point, I’ll concede).

So instead of electing these players to the Baseball Hall of Fame, I propose that an entirely new organization be set up — The Pharmaceutically Induced Sports Superiority Hall of Fame, or PISSHOF (pronounced “piss off”).

Best of all, this could be for all sports. So there would be a baseball division, professional cycling, football (both real football, which you know as “soccer,” and the American sport), track and field, and of course weightlifting and body building (of course, Arnold Schwarzenegger would be a charter member). That’s the Hall of Fame we need. And Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens would be perfect candidates for that honor.

Oh, and for those who are still wondering, this blog coming out of hibernation right now has no effect on how long winter lasts. So get ready for 10 more weeks of cold, snowy weather (unless you live in warmer climes).

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Chase Car Doping

by Rant July 8, 2015

Time flies. So it’s been six months since the last post, give or take a few days. After a while, what new is there to say about doping? I suppose I could write about every story that comes along — which would make updating the old book easier — but after a while it just […]

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Je suis Charlie et Ahmed

by Rant January 13, 2015

Yes, dear regular reader, I know what you’re thinking. “What? This isn’t about doping in sports?” And you’re right, it isn’t. Not at all. It’s about something much bigger and more important. As you might know, I started my professional life as a journalist, after graduating from the School of Journalism at the University of […]

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Don’t Let the Door Knob Hit Ya

by Rant December 17, 2014

Not that often that working journalists covering a particular beat will pen what is, essentially, an opinion piece. But The New York Times’ Juliet Macur does just that, with her latest article about the pending departure of USA Cycling’s (current) CEO, Steve Johnson. I say finally — and hooray — because it is high time […]

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Waking Up

by Rant December 11, 2014

Wow. Had no idea that I’ve been gone from this space for almost six months until I stopped by to check something in WordPress for a friend. I was going to post a video of the Tour going by my grandparents’ house in Leeds back in July, after one of my cousins sent me his […]

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