There they were, Vladimir Putin, the president of Russia, and Thomas Bach, the president of the International Olympic Committee. There they were, side-by-side, champagne flute by champagne flute, both wearing blue suits and expressions of importance at a “welcoming party” on the eve of the Sochi Olympics.
The rest of the world was already skeptical of the 2014 Games. Suspicious of the whispers of bribes paid out to win the bid away from Austria. Suspicious of the $51 billion in construction costs to turn a former swampland into something that looked like a still-uncompleted movie set, fake storefronts with nothing behind them. Suspicious of the missing dogs and political rivals, both reportedly scrubbed from the streets.
In Putin, IOC aristocrats such as Bach thought they had found their kindred spirit, willing to pay and do anything for Olympic glory.
Construct lavish and ridiculous facilities that play to the IOC’s over-inflated sense of worth? Check. Suck up to IOC leadership like they are all-powerful? Check. Toss a little something extra on the side to assure the voting on host city goes smooth? Cough. Cough.
The New York Times on Thursday reported the latest, and most damning, proof yet that Russia did more than just host the 2014 Winter Olympics: it conspired to fix it. Grigory Rodchenkov, the director of Russia’s anti-doping laboratory at the time, detailed to the newspaper how a state-run program was able to use being the host nation to swap out dirty urine samples with clean ones to assure the eligibility of dozens of Russian athletes.
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