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Wednesday, February 3, 1999 Published at 10:55 GMT

Is corruption ruining sport?

Presented by Robin Lustig and Sandy Walsh, 31 January, 1999

As allegations of bribery and corruption cloud the International Olympic Movement, Newstalk asked whether sport is being corrupted by money and drugs.

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Or read comments from around the world made:
During the programme
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Your comments during the programme

Christine Ranson Jarrott: "The whole thing should be scrapped"
I am horrified that sport has sunk so low, especially in the Olympic Games. I think the whole thing should be scrapped and started over with more stringent rules. I think drug testing should be mandatory for all athletes particularly all winners!
Christine Ranson Jarrott, USA

I think it's very difficult to condemn the money outright. Before 1980 the Olympics were bankrupt. But the lack of accountability is a problem.
John Whelan, USA

Nishant Berlia: "Power corrupts absolutely"
This is bound to happen, but to what depth has it got to - does it go to the judges who are judging the gymnasts?
Nishant Berlia, Delhi

Countries spending a lot of money developing performance-enhancing drugs seem to be the ones developing the tests - it seems to be whoever is the most powerful country.
Max Mahajan, Singapore

If such things can take place behind the scene, one wonders what sort of things take place on the competition arena. Shame on the people who have tainted a noble idea.
Tenzing, Tibet

What would the ancient Greeks say?
Madhusudan Raman, Canada

This is all about influence peddling, is it not? Doesn't the IOC see itself as the UN of Sport? Samaranch would like to think himself as Sec-Gen. He doesn't take a salary he says. What does he work for? My beef with influence dates back to 1986. Consider the fact that Samaranch's home city of Barcelona was awarded the Games just a few years into his tenure. Samaranch has known about the corruption all along. He must go.
Will Xavier, Singapore

Dalton Falcon: "There is no accountability"
My view is that sports are run without accountability - maybe officials should just run for one or two terms. You cannot have two or three people at the top who decide what goes on without being able to question them.
Dalton Falcon, Freetown, Sierra Leone

Tariq Mahmood Mian: "Scandals have made players even more popular"
In my country, Pakistan, where cricket is said to be enmeshed in its biggest ever bribery scandal, betting had never been part of our culture. It is still not clear if this thing ever happened or just been cooked up by some vested interests. The fact is that the investigations have made all the big names more popular. But fair play is still a major part of sport all over the world.
Tariq Mahmood Mian, Karachi, Pakistan

The 1952 and 1956 Olympic Games in which I participated and the Games now are different. The Games have reached new heights because of commercialisation. I welcome that. Like most advancement in science and medicine, the regulations, organisational checks and balances and the level of integrity of members have not developed to meet the new challenges. The IOC is an organic system. It should learn to shed its old skin and grow new to accommodate its growth.
N. Ethirveerasingam, Los Angeles, USA

The Olympics will die a natural death now.
Rudi S, Canada

The SLOC scandal does not reflect the values of most Utahns, so I believe that Salt Lake should pass the 2002 Olympics on to one of the other bidding cities. I liked Utah just the way it was before we got the bid. John Bailey, Salt Lake City, USA

Why call it "sport" anymore when it has now become an integral and major part of the entertainment industry. Drugs though in no way condonable are a drop in the ocean compared with the corrupting effect commercialisation has had. Sport is "used" very capably by the tobacco and junk-food industry to generate wealth for themselves. These products have been allowed to buy the olympics and almost every other sector of sport. Is Coca-cola and a Big-Mac the diet for world-class physical achievement ? I think not
Norman Davis, Vantaa, Finland

Your reaction through the week

We all have known for years and years that the IOC is filled with persons who are corrupt to the core - the present lot are just small fry. Only when these individuals and the companies they represent are barred will there be a clean-up. Till they are eradicated sports can never claim the high moral ground of being a role model creator for the youth of today. It is just the opposite.
Jacob Matthan, Oulu, Finland

There should be a policy of Zero tolerance in all sports with life bans for anyone caught. The current policy makes a mockery of 'sport' as does the exorbitant sums of money attached. They are not brain surgeons after all.
Roland Dalton, Australia

I was amazed to hear that Australia 'funded' sporting developments for votes from the IOC members. I quite agree that the Australians have a different meaning of the word bribe, but their actions never the less are as underhanded and devious as anyone else who bribes officials for their own personal or financial gain. I think people of this country would like to see some type of reprimand or compensation for the way we were cheated by being the only country that plays by the rules.
Rob Cooper, Mancunian, UK

Sport has become a global phenomenon and changed irreversibly. I think this is the golden age of sport with seemingly insatiable interest from the public, the media and commerce. We should do our best to protect sport's better qualities but we must accept that the extraordinary pressures that sport generates will inevitably cause some cracks in the system.
Rowland Jack, London, UK

Every human organisation of sufficient size and/or longevity has shown itself prone to at least occasional corruption, including monolithic governments and religious establishments. Let's wake up and smell the roses: Why should we expect the Olympic Games to be any different in this respect?
Dennis Pozega, Rejkavik, Iceland

Old fashioned values and a sense of fair play have long given way to commercialism and greed. Almost every high profile sport has been linked to either drugs or bribery scandals at some stage and the more money that becomes involved the more likely this going to occur. Being a high profile sportsman these days has huge responsibilities and some are not cut out for handling the pressure. It is very unfortunate that sport has become so money orientated and I can't see it reversing out of the way it is at present.
Tim O'Halloran

The commercialisation and professionalisation of sport is not the matter of evaluation or judgement, it is just a fact. The situation that sport attracts sponsorship and commercial interest that stimulate new highs in athletes' performance is a fact as well. You can not remove these things from sports industry without making the same regarding the rest of human activity. So the point is about combating corruption in AIOC and elsewhere in the sports industry pretty much like in European Commission or in the CIS governments.
Kochoradze Badri, Tbilisi, Republic of Georgia

Get real ... the Olympics are big business. Big business was not anticipated when the original concept was formed. The framework must be re-evaluated.
George Edward Mills, USA

Money is having a corrosive effect on all sports. The vast amounts riding on each Olympics make the temptation to bribe inevitable. The IOC can be cleaned up, but the present committee, and especially its president, are clearly not the people who can be trusted to do it.
John McNeil, Scotland

It's always been corrupt. Look at the misuse of drugs, the historical use of the Olympics for political and propaganda purposes. Perhaps we have been seduced by the idealism for too long.
Mapletoft, England

This is all rather bizarre. To read some of the media commentary, you would think that athletics was a actually a group of sport that interests lots of people. Face up to reality. Athletics is a minority interest, it's all about big business and nobody really cares about it.
J.F. Munro, Scotland

There is no doubt that sport has been corrupted by money and drugs. The Olympics scandal and the row over Petr Korda are just the tip of the iceberg. There are far more problems, which cannot be talked about except in hushed whispers. Critical problems include things like the untimely deaths of Flo Jo and Vitas Gerulaitis. But more important we have the spectacle, day in and day out, of people who fail to win gracefully or lose gracefully
G Krishnamurthy, New Delhi, India

The whole Olympic organisation should be scrapped and rebuilt.
John McNeil, New Zealand

The Olympic ideal was destroyed when professional athletes were allowed in. The current scandal is just another nail in the coffin.
Richard T Ketchum, USA

Whether or not the Olympic ideal has been destroyed depends on what one believes the Olympic ideal really is. If it is about sportsmen from all over the world coming together in a celebration of competition and humanity, then the Olympic ideal will need to take a lot more damage before it is destroyed. But the Olympic ideal is more than "togetherness" and "sport". In this sense the Olympic ideal has been damaged, possibly destroyed. I am certain that the present corruption is not new, and while it may yet continue, we need to strive so that it can survive. Sponsorship and big corporate dollars are not everything.
Michael Saadat, Australia

I do believe the Olympic ideal is damaged. I live in Salt Lake City and the politicians here including our governor Mike Leavitt seem to be trying to pass the buck to the IOC. He says we where just playing the game, but Salt Lake did not have to play, they could have lost with dignity rather than win with deceit. Yes the skiing may be good but there is more to a vacation than skiing and watching the Olympics there is not much night life here and they sure make it as difficult as they can to get a drink.
George Millar, USA

One could well put the advantages of putting the games permanently at their original site in SW Greece. On the day the athletics opened in Atlanta I jogged along that ancient track and was the only one on the track itself at the time, so I guess I won. Seriously, is it not worth a thought to move them permanently to where they came from on an internationally controlled basis?
Jon Amies, Hong Kong

The Olympic ideal has been destroyed since sponsorship and business became the priority, starting with the LA games. At the latest shambles in Atlanta, they didn't even keep the Olympic stadium! As far as I'm concerned it might just as well be called the Coco-Cola games these days.
Simon Watkins, Wales, UK

The Olympic Games belong to the world's sportsmen and sportswomen, regardless of the venue. They bring much enjoyment to the billions who watch it on TV. Any possible bribery allegations involve only the top administrators and if guilty, obviously they should go. I look forward to watching the Olympic Games in Sydney in 2000.
Andrew Lye, England

The "ideal" has been non-existent for years, ever since the achievements of the athletes were associated with their countries of origin, and medal scores were kept by country. The Olympics were supposed to be a tribute to individual effort, not to national jingoism
Harold H Rotman, USA

The Olympic ideal is still about the sports, the athletes and the enjoyment of watching events. The bidding process has always been the same and because of the IOC voting system attempts to influence members are inevitable. The bidding cities are desperate to hold the games because of the financial benefits, new facilities and tourism benefits gained. We would be naive to think otherwise. Some changes probably have to be made, but in a competitive bidding situation human nature dictates that every means possible will be used to harness the games.
Mark Westhead, England

The Olympic ideal has not so much been destroyed as been utterly non-existent for many years now, by anabolics and no spirit of coming together. The ancient Olympic ideal was probably never prevalent even from the first Olympic Games of the modern era, but now it is nothing but a competition for bigger and better at any cost. This quite apart and before the cries of bribery, which were always suspected before anyway. Perhaps they ought to be scrapped altogether before the last tarnished vestiges of any ideals are lost forever.
Parina Douzina Stiakaki, Greece

The whole Olympic atmosphere has been destroyed by these greedy people. Why don't they have the last Olympics at Athens where it all started and just let it be?
Gail Fawcett Engstrom, Sweden

Samaranch should take full responsibility for the scandal and move on. What moral justification does he has to ask others to go while he wants to stay put?
O. Hassan-Odukale, Nigerian

The IOC should be strong and willing enough to sustain a thorough shake-up, including the dismissal of Samaranch. His knowledge of recent behaviour outweighs the good that he has brought to the Olympic movement.
Martin Sullivan, The Netherlands

The IOC will always be subject to corruption and bribery. The line between honest persuasion and corruption is now blurred forever. Holding the games in Greece would eliminate the bribery by any country. Its time to re-create a grand facility in Greece, and get rid of non-Olympic sports like synchronised swimming, bowling, pistol shooting, soccer etc. At the current rate of acceptance of "new" sports into the Olympic code we will soon see car racing, sky diving, chess and rodeo as Olympic sports.
Peter, New Zealand

Samaranch has targeted African and third world IOC members for wrongdoing. He fails to realise that he has big bones in his closet as well. Time has come for him to pack his bags as well and head into retirement. Otherwise the games must be taken back to Olympia in Greece for good as Samaranch has disgraced the movement. Adieu Samaranch!
Sammy Were, Swaziland

The debate goes on

One of the saddest things about the loss of Olympic honour may be that the very worthy suggestion of a world-wide truce during the Olympic Games will not be treated with the importance that it deserves. World leaders will be able to challenge the singer and not the song. I live in a country where spoilt, overpaid footballers have no compunction (or patriotism) about demanding $3,000 for winning a match in a country where the average wage does not amount to $40 per month if they are to play for their country. If we want to bring sanity back into the game, we should spend less time as spectators and watch it better ourselves.
Ayo Obe, Nigeria

UK government, would he still be there? Certainly not in Australia. The rest of the executive should be following suit - including Kevin Gosper from Australia, who'll probably succeed Samaranch.
Jill Colwell - near Sydney, Australia

I agree with the 80-year old caller who ran the mile for the Olympics - I do not believe for example that Eric Liddell (Chariots of Fire) would have run on Sunday for anything, including money. That's called having principles and sticking to them and that's what's lacking in sports today. There is the automatic assumption that with that much money around, people are bound to be corrupt and corruptible. Drugs would not be taken if it wasn't for the money prizes and sponsorship - there would be no point. It starts when the sportsman or woman is young and depends on how their parents and coaches taught them - to win at all costs or to win with honour. I cried the day that tennis and in particular Wimbledon went professional - that was the end of an era when you played the sport for personal pride and national honour.
Sue Bailey

Previously, during the games the athletes lived together, ate together played together. Nowadays, most live in hotels surrounded by their doctors, agents and personal trainers. In such circumstances, no real control is possible.
Jon Beattie, Aix-en-Provence, France

When the human kind invented sport, it was to serve two goals: health and fun. And that was the case for some time. Until big money came along and ruined everything. Nowadays, professional sport is just another big business. Just look at the kind of money that professional athletes are making, or the amounts for which soccer clubs purchase players from one another. Beating the rival is the most important thing. This way, the whole idea of sport is completely lost. Sport was supposed to be FUN first of all, remember?
Dr. Wojciech Cebulak, Torun, Poland

I believe that if any body is controlled for too long by one group of people, then corruption occurs. For instance, if a political party is in power too long, then government becomes inefficient and "corrupt". The heads of the IOC have been there for many years - Samaranch, Gosper, etc. What external source elects them? No-one. Who throws them out? No-one. What happens? Professionals can suddenly play in the Games.
Jill Colwell, near Sydney, Australia

Why have Olympics never been held in China, India or a country in Africa? Whoever has more money to bribe the officials becomes the host. I think Olympic Movement should be disbanded for shame. Mansoor
Reston, Virginia, USA

In my opinion in recent years the Olympic Games have demonstrated nothing except rampant commercialism and greed. It has also become obvious that the success of the 'games' is judged by the extravagance of the opening and closing ceremonies. Today we are all watching South Africa playing the Windies - cricket has also become a minefield of corruption and political correctness. Rugby - the same! Golf - I am holding my breath!
Robbie, Cape Town, South Africa

R- to Rob Cooper. I am afraid Australian's have the same meaning for bribery as you in the UK. What has been said here is firstly according to IOC law Australia has done nothing wrong. Secondly and unimportantly if you look at Mancester, Berlin and Beijing (other contenders) they also had increased funding to Africian countries in the months residing to the decision. I am not saying that it is ok, what I am saying is that Sydney officals played hard ball, just as everyone else did with a difference, we won. Don't listen to the British press that you were clean because I can tell you mate you were not!
Justin, Sydney, Australia

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