Olympics buzz: Where's a good scandal when you need one?

This is your daily infusion of information and news that you might have missed. The really big stuff you’ll find in other stories.

As far as the kind of roiling Olympic controversies that can make the Games so interesting, the South Korean version of things has been kind of boring. Where’s Ryan Lochte when you need him?


It’s common sense that when you have nearly 3,000 highly charged athletes and more support people and even more media that something could go terribly wrong. Even International Olympic Committee members, who have a history of hands-out corruption, have been quiet for these two-plus weeks.

The biggest scandal of these Games seems to have been a positive drug test for a Russian curler, a sport where beer would seem to be the only performance-enhancing substance.

And light beer is strictly prohibited.

What brought it to the height of absurdity was when Andrei Sozin, senior vice president of the Russian Curling Federation, speculated to the Associated Press that U.S. security might have “put something” into the curler’s water or tampered with the testing sample. He offered no reason for how or why but here’s guessing it’s not retribution for meddling in U.S. elections.

In fact, curling has been at the center of a couple of the Games’ other microscopic controversies. First, British skip Eve Muirhead committed a hog-line violation. And that’s controversial only so that the media can actually use the phrase hog line in a sentence. It happens if the rock is released after it crosses the line.

And don’t forget the violation of courtesy committed by Canadian curler Rachel Homan when, after a Dutch sweeper (yes, it means exactly what it says) accidentally touched a rock in play, Homan completely removed it rather than just repositioning it and leaving it in play. What she did was perfectly legal.

Mark Kingwell, a professor of philosophy at the University Toronto, wrote in an op-ed piece in the Toronto Globe and Mail that by modern curling standards, it was a “jaw-dropping, mean-spirited decision.” The headline on the article was “Being a jerk doesn’t make you a better Olympic competitor.”


There were two other drug violations, but no hotel room trashings, no arrests, no U.S. athletes being walked off a plane. Ah, don’t you miss Rio?

That’s where Lochte and a couple of cohorts tore up a gas station bathroom, lied about being robbed and pretty much caused an international incident that embarrassed the U.S. Rio also gave us the green diving pool and a scattering of bullets being fired at buses and venues. And who can forget the Irish IOC member who was arrested for ticket scalping.

And then there was Sochi, Russia, where the athletes had a great time but everyone else was miserable. You had the athletes rescuing stray dogs, unfinished lodging for visitors, equipment held up in customs and someone from the U.S. embassy visiting U.S. media each day to ask if everything was OK and if anything went wrong to call him first.

So, those are the kind of Olympics that people have come to expect of late. And all we have in Korea are “controversies” in curling.


Three’s a charm


After Tuesday’s competition, Martin Fourcade found himself only two gold medals behind the entire U.S. team when he won his third gold by anchoring France in the biathlon mixed relay. No one at these Games or in French Olympic history has won more gold medals. He has five. He was skiing and shooting the anchor leg, and overcame a 38-second deficit and made all 10 of his shots to help beat Germany. The U.S. finished 15th out of 20 teams.

Craziness in short track

In a display that roller derby stars Ann Calvello and Joanie Weston would appreciate, South Korea won a short-track speedskating gold medal in the women’s 3,000 meters, but getting there was half the fun. With four of 27 laps remaining, South Korea fell with China leading. But the defending gold medalists were able to get back in the race and eventually battled to win.

The referees then started to sort things out. China, who finished second was disqualified for impeding, moving Italy from bronze to silver. Canada then thought it would get the bronze but was also disqualified, moving the Netherlands to the bronze. Thing about that is they weren’t even in the race, having won the “B” final. The U.S. did not have a team in either final.

Germany sweeps

In a sport that will use any combination to come up with a medal possibility, Germany swept the podium in the Nordic Combined large hill/10-kilometer cross-country competition. It also has the same competition on the normal hill. Here’s hoping there is never a small hill or medium hill. Johannes Rydzek got Germany’s 11th gold of the Games. Bryan Fletcher was the top American in 17th place.

In progress …

The U.S. stands a good chance of winning a medal after two runs of women’s bobsled. Elana Meyers Taylor and Lauren Gibbs have the second fastest sled with two runs to go. Jamie Greubel Poser and Aja Evans are in eighth. German sleds are first and fifth. … And there is also a good medal possibility in the men’s ski halfpipe with the U.S. having advanced David Wise, Torin Yater-Wallace, Alex Ferreira and Aaron Blunck to Thursday’s 12-man final. … The U.S. curling teams are going to need a lot of luck just to make it to a tiebreaker. The men beat Switzerland 8-4 on Tuesday and play their final match against Britain. They are fifth at 4-4. The U.S. women lost to South Korea 9-6 and play Sweden. They are tied for fifth at 4-4.