It takes all kinds to make up an Olympic Games.
That’s the glory of the five-ringed sporting circus. The best athletes from everywhere assemble in one place to test themselves against each other.
But unfortunately not everyone is treated equally. That has been clearly outlined at the London 2012 aquatic centre this week.
The performance of 16-year-old Ye Shiwen has been a highlight of these Games. Gold medals in the two individual medleys, with the 400m in world record time, have been sights to behold for a seasoned sports watcher.
So she must be a drug cheat. These performances aren’t natural.
The conduct towards Ye has been appalling. No sooner had she touched the wall in the eight-lap race and the US camp began throwing out cryptic criticism of China’s new swimming wunderkind.
“You do the math,” was the call from US swim coach Gregg Toy on day one of these Games, a reference to Ye’s amazing finish to the 400m when she produced a freestyle leg that was comparable to the great Michael Phelps.
And while we’re on Phelps, no-one is questioning the legitimacy of his record 19 Olympic medals. But
didn’t he get caught with his lips around a bong in 2009?
That’s right. Marijuana isn’t performance-enhancing in the pool. So it isn’t the same as what Ye is doing, if she is doing anything but train hard.
Surprisingly at this meet another teenager has shocked the world with her performance. Ruta Meilutyte is only 15 years old. But she was good enough to upset the best in the women’s 100m breaststroke.
Not one word has been asked about Meilutyte’s preparation for the Games. Nor should there be without proof. Maybe Meilutyte’s blond hair and blue eyes have helped deflect any unnecessary scrutiny.
China didn’t have a good record with drugs in the pool a decade ago. Perth was caught up in the performance-enhancing controversy in 1998 when Chinese swimmers were busted with human growth hormones in their luggage while attending the world championships.
But has the US forgotten about Marion Jones, Tim Montgomery and CJ Hunter? So should every American that produces a stand-out performance at the London 2012 athletics arena next week immediately placed under the burden of suspicion?
It took the grace of Australia’s Alicia Coutts to put Ye’s display in perspective. And Coutts’ opinion carries the most weight.
“I like to believe innocent until proven guilty,” Coutts said in an address to the media that should be copied by the AFL Players’ Association and sent to all its members as a brilliant example of talking in public.
“As far as I’m concerned she is innocent and I think she is an amazing swimmer.”
And unless, not until, an athlete is caught with their hand in the cookie jar there should be no second guessing first place.
We should just sit back and marvel at the spectacle for what it is.