An Olympic task

Citius, Altius, Fortius. This motto of Olympics, which is Latin for “Faster, Higher, Stronger,” very effectively reflects the purpose of this global quadrennial sporting event.

It shows the eternal endeavor of humans to struggle and surpass themselves. It depicts the soaring spirit of humans to compete and win. That is why I feel the motto cannot be more apt than this.

It is here, at Olympics, that we see the testing of the limits of human endurance and strength to their utmost. And it is done on a global platform where the best of the world have converged to compete and go forward – faster, higher and stronger.

Two days ago, when Queen Elizabeth said “I declare open the Games of London celebrating the 30th Olympiad of the modern era,” it was immediately followed by a fanfare with an explosion of fireworks. But the opening ceremony, we know, will be actually followed by skill-display with an explosion of excellence. The Games are all about this.

Athletes and officials should make the Games incredible and spectacular. But, most importantly, I feel, they should make them fun and clean. I say ‘clean’ because I have seen many an Olympian disgraced by a doping scandal. I have seen it give shame and ignominy, instead of fame and glory, to the country he or she belonged to.

According to The Guardian, London Olympics anti-doping operation will carry out a record number of tests this year. More than 150 scientists will analyse 6,250 samples, with specially trained couriers carrying the samples to an Essex laboratory. The team of specially trained delivery drivers – of UPS, the US logistics firm which won the contract – have been tasked with ensuring that athletes’ drug testing samples are not tampered with.

The very fact that the organizers have to go these lengths to keep the Games fair is an indication of the sad human trait which goes by the old phrase ‘to win by hook or crook’.  Why can’t athletes compete fair? Why should their samples disgrace them and their countries?

Of course, I fully understand that there may be many banned substances which the athletes can inadvertently consume before their competition. But it is the responsibility of coaches and players to always be updated about anti-doping legislations and about banned substances.

Just look at the Olympians who showed the indomitable human spirit, without drugs. Jesse Owens overcame racial prejudice to win four gold medals at Berlin (1936). Wilma Rudolf overcame crippling polio to become the first American woman to win three gold medals at a single Olympiad at Rome (1960). Shun Fujimoto overcame pain of a fractured kneecap, to win Gold for Japan at Montreal (1976).

But, as I write this, I now learn that one athlete from Albania, two from Turkey, one from Lithuania and one from Poland have all been dropped on doping suspicions by authorities at London, as banned substances were found in their samples.  Is it not sad?

If I hope that these will be the last, will I be hoping for too much? Maybe I am. But I am an optimist, and I believe that if the youth needs to abide by one thing, it is a message that says we must ‘Play well, and play fair’.

Otherwise the motto of 2012 London Olympics, ‘Inspire a generation’ will be only a phrase with no power. It will only be a platitude with no punch.