Honolulu Lite

by Charles Memminger

Wednesday, January 27, 1999

Scandal will test
Olympic mettle

SO it turns out that some of the people in charge of the world's most prestigious amateur sporting event -- the Olympics -- are a bunch of sniveling cheaters who accepted babes, baubles and bucks in return for their vote on where to hold the games.

This is no Greek tragedy. It's just your run-of-the-mill sordid tale of greed, lust and abuse of trust that seems to attach itself like a blood-sucking tick to just about everything these days. We aren't even stunned anymore. When you live in a time where the leader of the free world is willing to jeopardize his job, family and credibility simply to have some big-haired bimbo tickle his fancy inside the White House, well, you have to assume there is absolutely no position of honor and trust that is not above being trashed.

The surprising thing is not that corruption exists in lofty places. That's where corruption thrives, up in the high country where ideals, ethics and morals litter the ground like empty oxygen canisters. What is surprising is how cheap it is to corrupt people these days. It's as if there has been a total collapse in the world corruption capitalization market and now it is possible to buy off just about anyone for a couple of rubles and a day pass to Euro-Disney.

You don't need to fill up secret Swiss bank accounts when a gold-digging debutante chubbette who couldn't win a wet T-shirt contest at a truck-stop tavern can corrupt the president of the United States simply by exposing a thong strap on an equine-esque thigh. Olympic committee members were willing to peddle their influence regarding the selection of future sites for the games not for gobs of money but for free school tuition for their grandkids and an evening with $50-an-hour escorts. Why try to corrupt someone at Neiman-Marcus prices when Wal-Mart will do just as well?

The International Olympic Committee, being a global enterprise, may be beyond the legal reach of any one prosecuting body. Perhaps they should clear out all those Yugoslavian war criminals at The Hague for a few days and herd several IOC members before an international tribunal. Or at least Judge Judy. And then what? So you find out that the creeps sold their souls for less than a luge helmet full of filthy lucre (does lucre come in any other flavor?).

What are you going to do, put them under house arrest at the Olympic Village and force them to sell those little lapel buttons as a means of community service?

THANKFULLY, the Olympic games are more about competition and testing the limits of human endurance than the bribery of a bunch of self-important gasbags. The only sport the committee members compete in is international butt-smooching. When you are on a committee whose decisions can result in millions of dollars being pumped into a city, you are met by long lines of butt-smoochers whenever you roll into town.

Now, some committee members are quitting and others are being forced out in an internal putsch apparently intended to show the IOC can change the sawdust in its own stall. The last thing they want is for a disgruntled prosecutor from one of the jilted cities to start firing off indictments.

Even without criminal charges, damage has been done. From now on, every time an Olympic athlete is forced to pee into a cup to test for drugs or allegations of blood-doping or some other method of performance enhancement is alleged, the stench of hypocrisy will rise around the proceedings like swamp gas. Maybe one of the committee members should be forced to hold the cup.

Charles Memminger, winner of
National Society of Newspaper Columnists
awards in 1994 and 1992, writes "Honolulu Lite"
Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
Write to him at the Honolulu Star-Bulletin,
P.O. Box 3080, Honolulu, 96802

or send E-mail to charley@nomayo.com or

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