In what has become the Dopalymics, with a third of the Russian team banned and a Cold War in the pool, with swimmers calling each other out as dopers, there’s one thing missing.
Five days into the games, no one’s actually failed a drug test yet. At least, not one that has been announced. A Taiwanese weightlifter withdrew before the games after apparently failing a test, but no one’s been caught after competing.
Some of that may be timing – track and field, which typically accounts for several failed tests, doesn’t start until the weekend, although weightlifting is in full swing – but there were 12 failed tests during the London games, including three in the first four days.
In Rio so far, there has been a surplus of talk but an absence of any failed tests, officially speaking.
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The IOC took a flaccid stand on the Russian doping program, punting on a decision and letting individual sports determine who will be allowed to compete, but the Paralympics on Monday took a stronger position and banned all the Russians – an organization without the same financial dependence on Russia and perhaps even more aggrieved given the absurdity of Paralympic doping.
The entire anti-doping apparatus is certainly worthy of skepticism based on what we now know about the systematic and expansive cheating by the Russians in Sochi, and the official lab in Rio was only recently reaccredited after losing its status earlier this summer – which raised the possibility of private jets flying samples to acceptable labs elsewhere in South America – but the silence so far seems a bit curious.
Maybe silence is the wrong word.
Accusations have been a big part of these games so far, most notably with American swimmer Lilly King calling out Russian swimmer Yulia Efimova, who has been suspended before, then beating her and sitting next to her at an awkward press conference. King also said previously banned American sprinter Justin Gatlin shouldn’t be competing, either.
Australian swimmer Mack Horton called Chinese rival Sun Yang “a drug cheat,” while controversial Raleigh track coach Trevor Graham, Gatlin’s former coach, launched a barrage of doping accusations against Olympic competitors in a Facebook post Saturday.
American track and field athletes inevitably faced several questions about doping during a pre-competition press conference Wednesday, given the absence of all but one member of the Russian track team.
“I think the rules are the rules,” sprinter Allyson Felix said. “We control what we control. It’s hard to get caught up in anything else. We’ve all competed against those who have tested positive. But we’re focused on putting up a performance.”
Luke DeCock: 919-829-8947, firstname.lastname@example.org, @LukeDeCock