Post-Olympism? Questioning Sport in the Twenty-First Century

By John Bale; Mette Krogh Christensen | Go to book overview

13
Doping and the Olympic Games
from an Aesthetic Perspective
Verner Møller

There is no doubt that the modern Olympic Games have been an enormous success if the sole criterion is growth: increases in the number of participants, intensified media awareness, boosted economies, improved levels of achievement, and so on. Over the years the modern Olympic Games have, as John MacAloon has stated, ‘grown from a fin de siècle curiosity into an international culture performance of global proportions’ (MacAloon, 1988, p. 279). There is, however, good reason to wonder at this growth, not least in the light of the parallel growth of destructive forces that have caused considerable erosion of Olympic ideals.

In 1936 the Olympic Games were harnessed to the Nazi propaganda machine. In 1968 they staged a setting for the ‘Black Power’ protest. In 1972 they were the scene of the greatest tragedy in the history of the Olympic Games, when eleven Israelis lost their lives as a result of a Palestinian terror action. The games again became the scene of international political conflict in 1980 when the Americans boycotted the Moscow Games and in 1984 when the Soviet Union boycotted the Los Angeles Games (see Hoberman 1986; Hulme 1990).

In addition to political abuse, the Olympic Games were also exploited by commercial interests with the result that the original amateur ideal was completely eradicated. During the 1960s, Avery Brundage still attempted to maintain amateurism as the foundation of the Olympic movement but he was up against too strong economic interests. After the Olympic Winter Games in Grenoble, Brundage circulated an indignant letter in which he complained about a number of rule infringements. He was outraged when he saw that special Olympic butter, Olympic sugar and Olympic petrol were being sold, and that not only had an enormous mercenary mentality infiltrated the games, but also the participating associations were blatantly flouting the rules. Allen Guttmann (1992), in his book The Olympics, vividly describes the massive problems faced by Brundage.

The Fédération Internationale de Ski, for instance, had violated its pledge to remove advertisements from ski equipment. Athletes had been tempted for decades to accept small

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