May the Best Chemist Win

Well the opening of the Olympic Games in Athens is still a few hours away and already there is a doping scandal story. Kostas Kenteris — the man expected to light the Olympic Flame — has missed a doping test. Okay, so he and fellow Greek sprinter, Katerina Thanou, were involved in a motorbike accident, but the tough new rules don’t seem to allow for things like that.

It will be interesting to see how the authorities handle this case. I’m sure they’re scurrying around looking for a get out clause. Apart from anything else, there would be bloody uproar in Greece if their hero were barred from competing. My guess is that they will be withdrawn “because of their injuries” and the whole incident will be quietly forgotten.

It does make you wonder whether the war against the cheats is one worth fighting. Why not just let them get on with it. After all, you could argue that high altitude training is cheating, or that rich countries have an unfair advantage because they can afford to train their athletes well and pay them while they’re doing it.

A few weeks ago in the “Life in a Day of” section of the Sunday Times magazine, they featured a young Arab boy, Iranian I think, who is desperately aiming to represent his country in the pool at the next Olympics. All he has to train in is a small, unheated, outdoor pool and very little else. To me, it’s people like that who should get a medal and achieve their dream, even if they don’t win.

Incidentally, the image above comes from the University of Utah from the time of the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City. It shows nerve cells and fibres bioengineered to form ‘living’ Olympic rings. Fascinating.

Nobody’s prefect. If you find any spelling mistakes or other errors in this post, please let me know by highlighting the text and pressing Ctrl+Enter.

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