‘That’s the understatement of the year...’
One of those annoying little phrases that people use to perk up their conversation, or their newspaper columns.
But this time it’s appropriate.
A programme by German ARD-TV alleges that doping and corruption in Russia and beyond implicated the sport’s world governing body the IAAF in covering up the problem.
Sheffield-made IAAF vice-president Sebastian Coe’s claim that athletics’ reputation is being ‘disproportionately damaged’ by this and other doping cases is top class understatement material.
The sport’s reputation is in tatters after generations of drug cheats. Only cycling’s dope-crazed past can come anywhere near the toxic chemical whiff emanating from certain sections of the athletics world.
We knew that, without a trace of irony, the Soviets and East Germans created doping industries so that their heroic Communist athletes could out-do the corrupt and immoral decadents of the west.
We know that in the corrupt and immoral west individual athletes - though there have been a lot of them - have been tempted to max their bodies potential beyond what nature intended.
But who knew about Russia today?
No-one? Hmm. Let’s see.
You had in Soviet Russia a strictly controlled state-run society where the Government says what’s best. And it says that what’s best for athletes, comrade, is to take drugs so they will be better, faster, stronger.
Then that entire political system breaks down.
Speculators, chancers and gangsters take over swathes of the country’s economy. So where did we think all those drugs and masking experts went to?
Did we imagine they were all handed-in in a fit of honesty unsurpassed since October 1917?
Like that country’s nuclear and conventional weapons some went missing but most stayed right where they were waiting for the new bosses to emerge and fresh ‘training programmes’ to evolve.
This indicates a level of corruption in those countries powerful enough to survive the change from communism to a free-ish market system.
That makes even FIFA look clean.
And there’s another contender for understatement of the year.Not that we need any more of them.