Archive | June, 2015

Do Cheats Prosper?

5 Jun

‘The only difference between a saint and a sinner is that every saint has a past and every sinner has a future.’ Oscar Wilde

As Justin Gatlin, the much-banned drugs cheat won the grand prix 100 metres in Rome last night, equalling Usain Bolt’s track record of 9.75seconds, Oscar Wilde’s prophetic words echoed round the sporting world. Cheats really do prosper, it seems.

Of course it’s easier to gain advantage where brute strength, lung power and ignorance are involved – rowing cycling, track and field, weight lifting etc. If subtlety, team-play, decision-making, versatility and complex tactics are involved, testosterone alone won’t do the job. If it did we might have a shout in the World Cup. Mind you footballers and cricketers have been pretty good at throwing games or no-balling for cash in recent times.

Which, of course, brings us to FIFA and Blattergate. And Alberto Salazar. The recent Panorama programme questioned the purity of Alan Wells’s meteoric rise to the 100metres gold medal in Moscow. And so it all goes. As scandal succeeds scandal why are we so surprised that cheating is pervasive, universal?

We use the word cheat from a young age. Kids cheat at party games, board games, in exams. We lie quite a lot too. Lying and cheating are integral parts of some cultures – they are a part of trying to achieve the best result. But sport should be different shouldn’t it? We revere the Corinthian values of sportsmanship and fair play. Our recent sporting icons are unimpeachable – Hoy, Redgrave, Ennis-Hill, Farrah…ah, are we sure about this? A previous generation had team players who carried the banner of integrity – Charlton, Moore, Cowdrey, Brearley and we liked those with spunk, a bit of devil – Botham, Best, Gazza – flawed geniuses. Now money is power and you cheat to get the best result.

Ever since Tommy Simpson fell off his bike I have thought that cycling was cursed with cheats. Athletics has been plagued for just as long. There are different types and levels of cheating too. FIFA adopt the bribery/money laundering approach, Lance Armstrong the medical – but in 21st century competiton humans will go to extraordinary lengths for glory (ie fame and riches). Nice guys do come second and it’s such a pity that this is the case. I want to believe in free and fair competition. When, in January, New England Patriots deflated their footballs to get one over Indianapolis Colts, I laughed. It was absurd. I should have cried.

I hope, still, that sport can rise above the general culture of cheats prospering. Daily, however, examples abound of those in positions of trust and power, abusing it. Whether it’s Libor-rate fixes, tax dodges, MPs’ expenses, Phone tapping, Rolf Harris, killer-nurses, Hillsborough police-chiefs, …gosh it’s a never-ending list. Even Bill Clinton regained his Presidency after giving Monica one.

Bobby Charlton and I share a birthday. Now there was a real, world class, unimpeachable, nice guy – who won without cheating.

Sepp Blatter and other reasons to be cheerful

2 Jun

Didn’t we all think that Blatter the chatter’s main message was: morals don’t matter, let’s go for Qatar. Any rhyme with Blatter makes for poor patter – scatter, shatter, batter, twatter, fatter-catter…and so on.  Fancy calling yourself Sepp instead of Joseppp. Domination of world football was inevitable. An irony that the Yanks blew the gaff on the bungs and bribes of FIFA, since it took them light years to expose Sir Lancelot Armstrong and that tidal wave of sprinters, now reinstated, who pump performance powerdrugs into their already-supercharged bodies. No matter, the world gets more curious daily. Aided of course by the ineffectual carping of Greg Dyke and David Gill and Prince bloody William who all cry ‘foul’ while Blatter gets fatter on the votes of delegates whose nests are nicely feathered.

Take the dogs who have just won BGT  (we aficionados use the acronym on the assumption that everyone was glued on Sunday night). Take the SNP. Take the Gooners winning the FA Cup and Bath losing to Saracens. Take England’s dropped catches. Take petrol prices going up again. Austerity. Dennis Skinner. Bercow. The rest.


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