Who would have thought that after blathering on for a couple of days about fountain pens, the New York Times would post up with a major story about my old favorite topic, doping, and how a simple fountain pen brought low the entire Russian sports program?
But they did, and two friends sent me the link to the story as soon as it hit the ether, “The Damning Diary That Could Upend the Winter Olympics.” The story is about how Grigori Rodchenkov, the former head of Russia’s anti-doping laboratory, had kept a meticulous diary by recording all of the transgressions and shenanigans that comprised the most sophisticated state-sponsored doping program since all the other state-sponsored doping programs (East Germany in the 70’s, USA in the 80’s).
What mattered to me more than the shocking shocker of shocks that athletes dope to win was that Rodchenkov kept his diary with a Waterman fountain pen. It seems that ink and paper are harder to erase with a click of the delete key than a Word file, much to the chagrin of Vladimir Putin and his henchpeople. Thanks to the diaries, Russia will likely be banned from the next Olympiad and sent to bed without any borscht, all because of a fountain pen, some diaries, and what can only be described as very pretty Cyrillic script.
Now, don’t get me wrong. Anything that embarrasses Vladimir Putin, the heir to Stalin’s throne, is awesome. But when the Times starts tossing off phrases that condemn Russia’s doping as “undermining the integrity of one of the world’s most prestigious sporting events,” I have to giggle and snort a little bit.
That the Olympics are prestigious I will admit. But that they have integrity? These are the Olympics that have been bought and sold to the highest bidder for decades. That were implicated in corruption and bribery in the selection of the Salt Lake City games. That have implemented anti-doping kicking and screaming and howling all the way. That have stripped medals from black athletes for political expressions. That stole Jim Thorpe’s gold medals because a Native American embarrassed all those great Aryan athletes. That showcased Nazi propaganda and actively assisted the spread of Hitler’s ideals, which prominently featured the dehumanization and extermination of the Jewish people.
Two of the guiltiest wrongdoers in the latest non-scandal, Vitaly Mutko and Yuri Nagornykh, let loose with a couple of gems. Mutko, Russia’s sports minister at the time of the Sochi Games and the current deputy prime minister of the entire Russian governmental mafia, said the revelations were “a continuation of the information attack on Russian sport.” He’s right, of course, the accusations are an information attack, an attack of facts, kind of like how Galileo continued Copernicus’s information attack on those who believed that earth was the center of the universe.
Mr. Nagornykh, Mutko’s former flunky who will be coming soon to a gulag near you, denied the existence of a doping program. “I have nothing to hide,” he wrote. Of course he doesn’t; Rodchenkov with his Waterman fountain pen has exposed it all. Nagornykh’s denial is kind of like a stripper saying “I have nothing to hide” as she flings away the g-string. No, sweetheart, you don’t. Whether you should is a different story.
Two other figures fingered in the doping diaries, Nikita Kamayev and Vyacheslav Sinev, proclaimed their innocence by mysteriously dying in the pink of good health.
Although they’re now singing a different tune, one with lots of sharps and flats and pianissimo galore, a report published by WADA after the Sochi games lauded that super-doped Olympiad as “a milestone in the evolution of the Olympic Games antidoping program.”
Was it ever.
For $2.99 per month you can subscribe to this blog and pay to support what you might otherwise take for free. Click here and select the “subscribe” link in the upper right-hand corner. Thank you!