Sports

“A criminal remains a criminal whether he uses a convict’s suit or a monarch’s crown.” ― Victor Hugo

It is said that the only things we can be sure of are death and taxes – let’s add cheating, and take a good look at taxes. Almost every week some business pleads ‘no contest’ to some financial shenanigans – or other black-hearted cynicism inflating profits.

Now for variety, we have the FIFA scandal. It had struck many as odd that FIFA had awarded the next two World Cups to Russia and Qatar – and now we know why.

After consideration of potential hosts for the 2018 & 2022 – their infrastructure, their soccer history, their climate, their human rights record – FIFA went with the biggest bribers.

Ironically, as Americans aren’t huge fans of soccer, it was the FBI which developed the case – and dropped the hammer – against fourteen FIFA officials. Arresting seven and indicting the others. Which raises the question: Is soccer uniquely corrupt?

Hardly, bribery brought Salt Lake City the 2002 Winter Olympics. Doubts eddy about the honesty of the bidding for the 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano, and Sydney’s 2000 Summer Olympics.

Cheating wasn’t restricted to the awarding of games. National and individual cheats riddled the games. The 1970s and 80s East German women’s teams were suspiciously masculine. The 1988 men’s 100-meter champion, Ben Johnson, used steroids. American Marion Jones was stripped of her five medals from the 2000 Sydney Games.

Weightlifting was rife with performance enhancing drugs. But cycling was the sport most tied to drug use – both Olympic cycling and, most notoriously, road racing. In particular, the infamous Tour de France.

The Tour has long been known to be awash in an exotic array of PEDs and illegal techniques. In the Tour’s youth, drug use was ignored. By the 1960s it was illegal. That drove doping into the shadows and gave rise to ever more inventive manipulations by ever more bicyclists.

When the Tour de France stripped Lance Armstrong of his seven victories, the winner’s slot was left blank. There was too much suspicion that the other high finishers were equally juiced.

All of this cheating was exposed only as the anti-doping agencies worked harder, with better tools and more sophisticated techniques to catch the cheats. Republicans, on the other hand, think that banks will behave better if financial regulation is dialed back. That bad actors will be punished by the marketplace. Is it naivete. Or is the GOP, by pretending all is well, complicit in a swindle of the American people?

Fifa

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