Doping and the fine art of selective forgiveness

Selective forgiveness.

def. The act of forgiving one person for their behaviour, but not forgiving another person who did the same thing.

For some time now I’ve been quite fascinated, and often perplexed, observing how differently social and mainstream media react to different doping fiascos, largely dependent upon where that athlete is from. Some suggest these double standards are a form xenophobia or even racism. I’m not sure. But I do know far too many Aussies – and Brits based on some of the strident defences being waged for Ms Armistead in the past 36 hours – seem happy to don their rose-coloured glasses and conveniently burry their heads in the sand whenever one of their ‘own’ is outed for a possible doping offence.


There are patterns, and generally speaking it works like this.

If you are Russian, eastern European, Turkish or Chinese there’s no need for further investigation: you are clearly guilty and must be banned as fast as possible. If you ever have the temerity to return to the sport, we will vilify your every move. 

(Here’s a very recent example from the SMH’s man in Rio.–because-someone-had-to-20160808-gqnbn3.html)

If you are western European but riding for a team representing one of the above nations, you are guilty and must be banned. You’re also an idiot.

If you are German, well, cue the raised eyebrows. We all know about those guys, don’t we?

If you are French, Italian or Spanish and a top rider, well, you are a cheat, but we know you were probably ensnared by nationalistic emotion and the hefty pull of history. Yes you should be banned, but because we like croissants, pizza and tapas, we probably won’t hold it against you forever. That said, we’ll always keep a little mental asterisk against your name and take the occasional pot-shot if you ever beat one of our guys in a big race.

If you are French, Italian or Spanish and you’re a nobody in the sport, piss off. Cheating scum.

If you are Scandinavian, we’ll jump up and down, say all the right things, and then forget all about it. One day we’ll even let you run your own team.

If you are American, hmmm, previously we would have forgiven you. However since Tyler’s book and that whole Lance thing, not to mention Balco, we’re a little more suss nowadays. So, sorry, you a deserve a ban. And a talk show deal.

On the other hand…

If you are British or Australian, well, hold that front page. You must have made an administrative and/or entirely innocent mistake, or you only did it that one time as an impressionable youngster, but you never really meant it so it doesn’t count. All is forgiven, the benefit of the doubt is yours. Smiles and handshakes all ’round for the good guys, right?

Yes folks, as we all know, our doesn’t stink. It reeks.


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