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Rod Liddle

It’s not just the Russians – there is no morality in top-level sport

Let’s not forget that when we bid for the World Cup, we indulged in our own little bit of bribery too

14 November 2015

9:00 AM

14 November 2015

9:00 AM

Why do transgendered people need separate toilets? I thought, according to the prevalent orthodoxy, that the new gender they had acquired was every bit as authentic as the one they had jubilantly renounced. So a separate toilet is surely otiose. And not just that, but the suggestion that they might need a separate toilet for micturition through their surgically emended private parts is surely offensive. The Speaker of the House of Commons, John Bercow, may be in trouble, then, for announcing his intention to install these mysterious receptacles throughout the Palace of Westminster to service the hordes of transgendered workers wandering around with extravagant beehive hairdos and outsize stiletto heels. In trying to be more-PC-than-thou, he may in fact be committing the crime of cissexism, which is a very grave crime indeed.

Incidentally, if I am wrong, and transgendered folk really do require separate toilets, then won’t at least two be needed in each site, one for her/him and one for him/her? That is the problem; the world has become terribly confusing, but I suppose this shouldn’t persuade us that things were better in the past — which was nonetheless a more comforting place. Back then, men were men and women were women — apart from drag queens, who we all loved, and field-event competitors from the Soviet bloc. Gargantuan, grunting Bulgarian ladies heaving the discus 200 yards, Natasha from Petropavlovsk with her stubble and her steroids putting the shot and leaving our more fragrant babes in the shade. The commies always cheated in the Olympics — that was a given. And, furthermore, all foreigner competitors were on drugs. How the world has changed.

Today we are expected to affect surprise and outrage that the Russian government is involved in a gigantic subterfuge to ensure that its Olympic competitors in 2012 avoided being nobbled in drug tests. This had been the conclusion of a report by the World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada), which observed that there was a ‘deeply rooted culture of cheating at all levels’ in Russian athletics, and there were calls for the Russkies to be barred from taking part in the 2016 games in Rio de Janeiro. However, the times having changed, our own pristine Sebastian Coe came in for stinging criticism too, in his role as President of the International Association of Athletics Federations. The IAAF had been utterly useless in rooting out the miscreants, ‘inexplicably lax’ and about as much use to the world as a transgendered bidet. (They didn’t actually say the last bit, I was sort of paraphrasing.)


Coe had previously described allegations of mass doping and cover-ups as being ‘a declaration of war’ against his organisation, and he did nothing about it. His ‘spiritual president’, as Seb referred to a ghastly Senegalese chap called Lamine Diack, the previous boss of the IAAF, was meanwhile arrested on charges of money-laundering. Not a good week for Seb, then.

And you are kidding yourself if you think it’s just the Russkies filling their athletes full of weird chemicals. Everyone seems to be up to it — yes, even us. Dozens of British sports stars have been censured for taking illegal substances.

Anyway, this Wada report was des-cribed as ‘sport’s darkest day’ by one of our daily newspapers and the story led all of the news bulletins, with exclamations of shock and outrage expressed by politicians, sports officials, people who run very fast etc. The darkest day? Maybe the darkest day for a month or so, since the ‘revelations’ that world football’s governing body was corrupt and rotten from top to bottom. Little more than a network of greedy and thick third-worlders pocketing bungs from the immoral, autocratic and arrogant delegates of the more affluent countries. All that televised voting business for the rights to stage the World Cup — a fix. Jeepers, who’da thunk it, etc. The magnificently repulsive boss of Fifa, Sepp Blatter, revealed that England’s bid for the 2018 World Cup, on which we spent £20 million, was a complete waste of time and dosh because a deal had already been done to give it to Russia.

But our protests (and the demand for the return of our money) sounded hollow. We have all known, for at least 15 years, that Fifa was a thoroughly corrupt organisation. We have known it absolutely unequivocally since Fifa awarded the 2022 World Cup to Qatar: a slave state where it is impossible to play football in the summer months, when the World Cup is traditionally held. But at every juncture our own footballing authorities continued to connive with Fifa, most recently throwing their support behind Blatter’s ally and henchman, Michel Platini, in his bid to become the next Fifa president. Even a subsequent inquiry into Platini — he took a ‘payment’ of more than a million quid from Blatter, as part of a ‘gentleman’s agreement’, whatever that’s supposed to mean — has yet to fully convince the FA and other domestic authorities that old Michel may not be the best bet to clean out the Augean stables of football’s governing body.

And of course, when trying to win those World Cup bids, we did our little bit of bribery too. We bought the wives of the delegates Mulberry handbags worth £230 each during that pointless bid for the 2018 World Cup. So we bribe, sure enough — we just don’t bribe enough. We should have withdrawn from Fifa a long time ago and maybe persuaded one or two like-minded countries to follow suit.

But there is no morality in sport at the highest level; certainly not from the administrators and not from a good many of the competitors, either. This has been the year that top sport was revealed as a corrupt racket. Now tell me something I didn’t know.


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