Tue, May 21 2013
Bulgarians often use the expression "Olympic calmness" as a way to ironically refer to someone who simply does not care about what others think of his actions. It is a good expression, I think, and it fits very well with all major public scandals that have been happening in this country for the past 19 years.
The last time I thought of using this expression was when I saw how the Bulgarian Weightlifting Federation reacted to the news that the entire Bulgarian weightlifting team was tested positive for doping by the doping police. Notwithstanding the fact that the team was banned from participating in the games, which is just another blow to the country's image abroad, I was stunned to see that Bulgarian weightlifting officials showed an "Olympic calmness" and talked about everything else rather than assuming responsibility for the scandal. I cannot imagine a bigger crisis for a sports federation than letting its entire team be tested positive for doping a month-and-a-half before the start of the Olympics.
And bear in mind that weightlifters are traditionally Bulgaria's strongest weapon at every Olympic Games, carrying most of the country's hopes for medals. That was one of the reasons why the media reacted with less interest to the news that a young Bulgarian shooter was banned from the Olympics because she was tested positive for cocaine use.
So back to the federation. When the news broke we all heard them talking about the damages Bulgaria has suffered, that the country was once again the target of a world conspiracy and a victim of double-standards.
Nothing was said about filing resignations, nothing. So what was the signal athletes in Bulgaria got from all this? "Sorry, guys, your life-long efforts in training for the Olympics are not worth a single resignation from our side, thank you very much and hope you can find something else to do for the rest of your life". The weightlifters in most cases have been selected from early age from schools all around Bulgaria and have been practising, ever since following the advice of their trainers and doctors. And now when these experts have failed them it is the athletes that will suffer all the consequences. They will have to try and find themselves a new place in Bulgarian society and be given as an example every time a world media decided to write about doping in sport.
I had a friend who used to train real hard hoping to go to the Olympics. She failed eventually because she could not afford the high-quality drugs and the high-quality doctors to take care of her. This friend of mine told me that timing was the most important thing in one's training. You should know how your body works, how long it takes to clean itself from the drugs so that you can plan when to go and enter a sport event. The better the drugs, the more reliable timing you get, she said. After all, this was why doping cops started doing sudden checks.
So if we assume, with a tinge of sadness, that everybody takes drugs, then in the case of the 11 Bulgarian weightlifters it should be the physicians and the trainers that should be blamed for the positive tests. And yet nothing has been said about them being held responsible although there were comments that they were devastated by the news. The same applies to the big bosses from the federation who have entrusted athletes to the hands of their trainers. They have been asked to resign several times but nothing like this has happened. A clear case of Olympic calmness, one might say.
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