Friday, August 3, 2012

Ethics at the Olympics: When Immorality Means Expulsion

Created in 1999 by the Executive Board of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), the Olympic Ethics Commission is a nine-member body whose purpose is to be "guardian of the ethical principles of the Olympic Movement," also known as the IOC's Code of Ethics, whose values include Dignity and Integrity and whose principles range from transparency to fair play, equity to accountability.

Ethical principles are a serious issue for the IOC, whose Olympic Games in the past have been marred by the male-competing-as-female Stella Walsh controversy in 1932 and 1936, the 1980s performance-enhancing drugs (steroids) scandal involving the East German team, Canadian sprinter Ben Johnson's doping scandal in 1988 and the Tonya Harding-Nancy Kerrigan rivalry's "Whack Heard Around the World" leading up to the 1994 Games.

Athletes were—and still are—willing to discard virtue in favor of their zeal for superficial success, as evidenced by several instances of unethical behavior during the 2012 London Games. From badminton to boxing and athletics (track & field) to gymnastics, the 2012 Olympic Games is not without its fair share of depravity:
  • Athletics (Track & Field) (Doping): Moroccan sprinter and potential gold medal contender Mariem Alaoui Selsouli was banned from Olympic competition after she tested positive for furosemide, a prohibited diuretic. On July 6, Selsouli ran the fastest women's 1500-meter race since 2006, but the IAAF's discovery of doping places Selsouli's mark in jeopardy. Selsouli previously served a two-year suspension for doping from 2009-2011. At the time, the IAAF threatened that a second offense would result in a lifetime ban from athletics.
  • Badminton: The Badminton World Federation and IOC disqualified eight female players from China, Indonesia and South Korea after a BWF investigation determined the women violated ethical tenets of the sport by attempting to lose on purpose, hence making a travesty of the game. The decision resulted in the announced retirement of Chinese star Yu Yang, who allegedly attempted to throw a tournament match so her team would not have to face another Chinese team in the next round.
  • Boxing: After a bout in which Japanese boxer Satoshi Shimizu recorded multiple devastating blows that knocked Azerbaijan fighter Magomed Abdulhamidov to the ground six times without triggering a referee's count nor a fight stoppage, Adbudlhamidov was awarded a 22-17 decision, drawing boos from the crowd and an instant appeal. After a Shimizu appeal, AIBA and the IOC overturned the result of the match and sanctioned referee Ishanguly Meretnyyazov of Turkmenistan, citing multiple breaches of its code of conduct.
  • Boxing: AIBA also reviewed a match in which Iranian heavyweight boxer Ali Mazaheri was disqualified by German referee Frank Scharmach during a bout against Cuban Jose Larduet. In an episode where Mazaheri claimed the outcome was "a fix ... a set-up," Scharmach was suspended five days, though Mazaheri's disqualification was upheld.
  • Gymnastics (Doping): The IOC provisionally disqualified Uzbekistan gymnast Luiza Galiulina after testing positive for the diuretic furosemide.
  • Soccer: Early in the Games' soccer tournament, Swiss footballer Oliver Buff was ejected by referee Wilmar Roldan of Columbia for faking a foul after he received a second yellow card, an automatic red and send-off. Considered by many to be an unecessary and even disgraceful tactic, MLS, FIFA and other governing bodies have taken steps to eliminate flopping from their sport. Though not a flagrant action meriting IOC involvement, Buff's dive was blatant enough to merit a booking, resulting in his disqualification from the match.
  • Soccer: Though the Japanese women's soccer team allegedly played a scoreless Group F match so it wouldn't have to face top-ranked Team USA or France; instead, the draw pits Japan against Britain or Brazil; however, this spirit-of-the-rules violation was deemed relatively minor, meaning Japan will not be sanctioned for its refusal to score.
  • Weightlifting (Doping): Albanian weightlifter Hysen Pulaku was sent home after testing positive for a prohibited steroid.
In a case of possible immorality off the field or court, in January, a London government ethics commissioner resigned to protest the Dow Chemical company's involvement with the 2012 Games, claiming that Dow Chemical is "reponsible for one of the worst corporate human rights violations in my generation."

At the sports world's highest level of competition, cheating is an unfortunate reality, an aspect that the IOC's Ethics Commission and all sports' various governing bodies must constantly be on guard to detect and discipline, so as to protect those who play by the rules, allowing fair play and honorable competition to thrive.


Bryan Zegers said...

CCS LAA Manager is protesting an out of the base line call against the white sox i believe, please look into to this, hawk harrelson is saying angels are protesting, prob will not be held up. Bottom 1st bases load 1 out

Bryan Zegers said...

very surprised Socisca is not ejected, saw that cc dana demuth told HP umpire, rookie lance barrett to write the protest in his score card, then did the hand signal wave to the press box.

SJR said...

You cannot protest a judgment call so there has to be more to this besides out of the baseline. I'm curious to see the play in question if the game is indeed being played under protest.

Anonymous said...

Lance barrett is not a rookie, he has had an mlb number for at least 3 years now, he is not full time though if that is what you mean, he is a AAA call up

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