I know the 2016 summer Olympic games have had its share of good and bad stories: toilets that don’t work, risk of safety in Rio de Janeiro, the risk of Zika virus for the participants. Too many negatives stories.
So it was refreshing to hear a good story.
Lilly King is a young American olympian, and she is reminding us about the spirit of the games. You see, Ms. King and her fellow American olympians do not use illegal substances to enhance their performance. But they had been seething quietly over the fact that the International Olympic Committee permitted Russians to compete, even though these Russians had been previously banned for using illegal substances.
Ms. King courageously pointed out the IOC’s flawed decision, which trampled the spirit of the games and allowed cheaters to compete,
“A level playing field would be preferred,” she said in a quiet yet seething public speech.
And with that, Ms. King demonstrated the kind of courage most of us should envy.
But Ms. King didn’t stop there. She went on to let her talent speak volumes. In full view of the public, she set an Olympic record for the 100 meter breaststroke. Her main rival was Yulia Efimova who came in second place. Ms. Efimova is a Russian swimmer who benefitted from the IOC’s inexcusable flip-flop. The IOC refused to ban Efimova from the games, even after a myriad of well documented reports that laid bare Russia’s state-sponsored doping program.
As Ms. King pointed out allowing athletes in the Olympics who dope is not a level playing field. That is a blunt assessment of the burdens being imposed on the clean athletes.
The real question is – should an athlete who was caught and punished for doping be allowed back in? The clean athletes who never crossed that line feel that officials aren’t backing them up. The crowds also felt the same way as the Russian swimmer was booed. Thank goodness Ms. King did not back down. She seized an opportunity and she made a statement.
People who follow this issue and work against doping, expressed support for Ms. King and Michael Phelps who subsequently backed her up. It was also pointed out that there were members on the U.S. team who had previously been sanctioned for doping.
To me it is clear – the sport must clean itself up and the Olympics must hold itself to higher standards.
And we should be proud of young, courageous athletes who speak up. We should commend Lilly King. Too bad the officials at the International Olympic Committee don’t have her courage.