Where's Jim McKay When You Need Him?
 (And What's with all the Fixers in London?)

 



Welcome to the 2012 Summer Olympics as held in London, England. Home of the most blatantly corrupted games ever (and I'm not even talking about the hows and whys London was "awarded" the games in the first place, nor the controversies over ticket sales, how much money - approximately $15 billion - it's costing the British to hold these "games," and everything else that goes along with the business end of this deal). As I write/post this, there are still seven days to go in this Olympiad.

  Let's start at the beginning...in women's doubles badminton (of all places).

Eight players - four from China, two from South Korea, and two from Indonesia - were all expelled from the games by the Badminton World Federation for fixing matches. Their fixes were far from subtle. They could have simply knocked the shuttlecock out-of-bounds or into the net more often, but apparently they figured, "why bother?" and literally dropped a few serves. Fans booed as they saw through the ploy - which wasn't against the rules per se as each team was strategically losing to get a better match-up in the next round of play - and recognized their actions for what they were: a fix.

No one's questioned they lost intentionally. But questions remain - for me, at least - as to whether they bet against themselves in these matches since losing was a forgone conclusion.

 Not to be outdone, the Japanese Women's Soccer Team took a page out of the badminton's players' book and essentially did the exact same thing...only they got away with it.

Japan's Head Coach Norio Sasaki ordered his team to strictly play defense in their match versus South Africa. The game plan was to play to a draw, which they did as it ended in a 0-0 tie.

Why the odd strategy? If Japan won, the team would have to travel 300-400 miles to play their next game in the quarterfinals round. Instead by taking the draw, their next game was to be played in the same stadium as their game against South Africa.

FIFA saw no problem with Japan's idea or play, and unlike the badminton players, did not punish the Japanese team for tanking...because they didn't lose.

Japan ultimately advanced to the gold medal game versus the U.S. and lost - earning a silver medal for their tanking efforts.


By the way, Declan Hill warned that the fixers would be in London for soccer prior to the games beginning.
 

 Back in 2011, a report surfaced that alleged the country of Azerbaijan was promised two boxing gold medals in exchange for a $10 million "loan" to the the International Amateur Boxing Association (AIBA). These claims were later deemed "groundless." (They won two medals in boxing in London - both bronze)

Oddly enough, Japanese bantamweight Satoshi Shimizu trailed Azerbaijan's Magomed Abdulhamidov by seven points heading into the final round. Then this happened: Shimizu knocked Abdulhamidov down six times.

Even with the final round thrashing, the judges scored the round an even 10-10. Abdulhamidov had to prop himself up against the ropes when the referee raised his hands in victory, and had to be helped from the ring.

Shimizu's team immediately appealed. The AIBA deliberated for an hour before deciding to reverse the decision and award the bout to Shimizu. It declared that referee Ishanguly Meretnyyazov should have given the Azerbaijani fighter at least three standing eight counts in that final round which would have resulted in the contest being stopped.

The AIBA would later expel Turkmenistani referee Meretnyyazov from the Olympics over his handling of this fight.


 Then Chinese swimmer Swiwen Ye had the audacity to win the gold medal in the 400m Women's Individual Medley. Not only that, she beats the time American Ryan Lochte posted in the final 50m freestyle portion of the Men's version of the event.

Western sports journalists everywhere immediately deemed the 16-year old a cheat and a doper/drug-user without a stitch of evidence besides her times.

But do they question any of the Americans - namely Michael Phelps, Missy Franklin, Katie Ledecky, or the aforementioned Lochte - for their times, performances and medal wins?

Nope. Only the evil Chinese team would stoop so low...except, you know, for Marion Jones and Lance Armstrong (to name but two).
 


  The Americans did come up on the short end of the stick in the second Olympic boxing "error" in judgement.

Welterweight Errol Spence lost - then on appeal, won - his bout versus India's Krishan Vikas after the AIBA took a hard look at the match on Spence's team's request.

Apparently Danish referee Lars Brovil overlooked a few things during the bout: incidents like Vikas intentionally spitting out his mouth guard in the second round (which should've resulted in at least a four point deduction) and in the third, Vikas's NINE holding fouls.


Brovil has not been expelled from the games as the other boxing referee was.

NBC Boxing announcers Teddy Atlas and Bob Papa were asked to move from their ringside seats by the AIBA because their comments were "very disturbing" to the Olympic boxing officials. Instead, the pair refused to participate in any further commentary, leaving NBC without on-site announcers for the final two days of competition.


 One would think/hope the host nation wouldn't need to resort to some sort of underhanded techniques to win a medal, but in cycling, that's apparently not the case.

British cyclist Philip Hindes admitted to intentionally crashing at the beginning of the 250m sprint versus France in order to get a re-start. Like the badminton players and the Japanese women's soccer team, this was all part of the plan.

They went on to win the race - setting a world record in the process - as well as the gold medal.

Though Hindes was quoted as saying, "I just crashed, I did it on purpose to get a restart, just to have the fastest ride. I did it. So it was all planned, really," he later backed off the statement and said that his rear wheel slipped out from under him.

The International Olympic Committee announced will not investigate the incident. It apparently pays to be a member of the host country's team.

 

  South Korean fencer Shin A Lam was winning her match against Germany's Britta Heidermann by a single point with a single second left in the match. The timer "stuck" and Heidermann was able to score a touch in the allotted extra time.

Officials had no idea what to do. South Korea filed a protest, and by rule, Lam was forced to stay on piste (fighting court) while officials worked out a solution. After 30 minutes, they decided, "tough break, Lam," and awarded the match to Heidermann - advancing her to the gold medal match while Lam was left to fight for a bronze. What's worse, she had to fence for that medal almost immediately after the protest was finalized.

She lost. Instead of being granted a sure silver, if not gold medal, an overly emotional Lam didn't even win a bronze.


Though 124 drug cheats were caught leading into the Olympics (117 in the four months prior to the games with seven athletes caught in pre-competition control testing), only one tested positive during the actual games. 

American Judo fighter
Nick Delpopolo was expelled from the Olympics after failing an in-competition drug test. He was the only athlete busted in these games.

Why? Delpopolo claimed he ate a "tainted" brownie...tainted with marijuana, that is, or so he claims.


But he wasn't completely alone. Just a day after the games ended, women's gold medalist in the shot put Nadzeya Ostapchuk of Belarus was stripped of her title for testing positive for steroids.
 

  Canada's women's soccer team cried foul over the game-changing foul called against their goalie Erin McLeod.

During their match versus the United States, McLeon was whistled for holding the ball too long, in effect delaying the game which Canada led 3-2 at that point. It's a rarely enforced penalty and was likely brought on by America's Abby Wambach. Usually a warning is issued prior to a foul call, but that was apparently not the case here.

The US was awarded an free indirect kick which hit the arm of Canadian defender Marie-Eve Nault. That foul, in the game's 80th minute, gave the US a penalty kick on which they scored.

America would go on the win late in the game's extra time, 4-3, and head to the gold medal match.



 Perhaps learning a lesson from some of the competitors listed above, the Spanish National Basketball team may have done a bit of tanking themselves.

First they lost to Russia 77-74 after leading by 9 points with under five minutes left in the game. Then in their next game versus Brazil, Spain was outscored 31-16 in the final quarter to lose 88-82.

Losing these two games did not take the team out of the competition for a gold medal. Instead, it allowed them to avoid playing the latest incarnation of America's Dream Team until the finals....where they lost 107-100, earning only a silver medal.


By the way, seven current and former NBA players grace the Spanish team: Pau Gasol, Jose Calderon, Serge Ibaka, Rudy Fernandez, Juan Carlos Navarro, Sergio Rodriguez, and Victor Claver.
 

  South African Cameron van der Burgh admitted to flat-out cheating to win his gold medal in the men's 100m breaststroke.

What did he do? van der Burgh took three underwater "dolphin" kicks when only one is allowed. The judges did not catch him in the act.

He went on to say, "If you're not doing it, you're falling behind. It's not obviously, shall we say, the moral thing to do, but I'm not willing to sacrifice my personal performance and four years of hard work for someone that is willing to do it and get away with it."


That's the Olympic spirit, isn't it?

 Was there a bit of home-field advantage in the 2012 Summer Olympics? In 2008, the British team managed to take home 19 golds, 13 silver and 15 bronze medals, placing them fourth in overall medal count with 47.

In these games, the British improved with 29 golds, 17 silver and 19 bronze medals for an overall tally of 65.

The French, for one, didn't think this was coincidence. In fact, others have claimed judging biases toward the British as well. Their teams/athletes were given restarts in cycling, rowing, and diving. Some questioned the legality of their cyclists' wheels (which were designed in cooperation with the McLaren Formula One racing team) as the Brits won seven of the ten events held in the Velodrome.

Perhaps Indian welterweight boxer Manoj Kumar said it best, "This is (like) a district tournament. It's not an Olympic tournament. Cheating, cheating, cheating."

 



See you in 2014 for the Winter Olympics held in Sochi, Russia
.