Long before I became a football fan, I was 100% an Olympics geek. I loved the summer Olympics best. Gymnastics, track, and swimming were my favorites. I loved everything about them–the Bud Greenspan documentaries, the athlete sob stories, seeing other countries, hearing other languages and national anthems, etc. I bought into the national honor thing hook, line and sinker. I even took pride in the fact that while the Soviet Union and German athletes were paid professionals who often won by any means necessary, our American athletes were true amateurs–unpaid athletes scraping together the funds to compete to honor their country and show excellence in sport.
For me it started with Ben Johnson of Canada. We Olympic purists wanted to believe that he was an aberration. Fast forward to Marion Jones. I can’t say I’m shocked. But it is just one more piece of wood stoking my fire of disillusionment, disgust and bitterness. It seems that where there is smoke there is fire. (Landis, Vick, Bonds, Giambi, et al)
I still want to believe that there are athletes striving to be the Olympic ideal without unnatural enhancements.