`Ideals in sport do not exist'

Steve Ovett, winner of the 800 metres gold medal in Moscow in 1980, on why he thinks the modern Olympic movement is destined to break up soon
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Indy Lifestyle Online
It was the Los Angeles Games which changed everything into a commercial adventure. The Olympics are sold and marketed - those are the key words - on the idea of an ideal. But we all know there are drugs in the sport and that certain countries get more advantages, but we can't worry about it. I'm less surprised by this news than I am that people are shocked by it.

We have to be careful about jumping on a moral bandwagon. These are unpaid people and of course they're susceptible; they're human beings. We all make mistakes and we're all liable to temptation. We all knew these things were going on and to be honest I was surprised at how small the "gifts" were. If they'd been professional then the carrots dangled in front of them would have been even larger.

We haven't lost anything. We haven't lost a dream because I don't think it ever existed in the first place. If people think the Olympic Games was ever a world of purity and vestal virgins then they have to wake up and smell the coffee. Ideals don't exist in sport, or in politics. It's not a question of being cynical but we know the sport is rife with problems. It's sad, but this is the way it is.

The original Greek Olympics broke up because of corruption and I'm sure the modern Olympic movement will too, if only because people will lose interest. The IOC needs a shake-up and they'll be a bit more careful in public. But in 20 or 30 years the same things will come up again.

I don't think for a minute this scandal will take the edge off anyone's gold medal in Sydney. Athletes aren't that bothered by it. When I was running we didn't care about anything but our training. No one gave a damn about what happened at the IOC. The IOC doesn't hold any kind of Holy Grail, but I think it does its best.

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