Back in Beijing in 2008, the Chinese women's gymnastics team faced questions about whether or not they were old enough to compete in the Olympics. The Chinese government said they were, nobody believed them and the International Olympic Committee performed the feat of sticking their fingers in their ears and saying "La la la la not listening!" in 68 languages. This despite the fact that an earlier Chinese team was being investigated and later found guilty of the same thing.
Now the questions are raised about Chinese swimmer Ye Shiwen, who blazed through the pool in some record times. Was she blood-doping or otherwise using performance-enhancing drugs? The Chinese government is angry at the speculation, a development to which the only appropriate reply is "So what? I'm angry about your one-child policy, forced abortions, harassment of your own people and repressive police state, so now we're even. And tell Tom Friedman to shut up."
And with regards to the question of whether or not Ye was chemically assisted in her races, either recently or growing up, I don't care. Not in the sense of this dim-bulb columnist, who thinks it's mean to suggest the poor kid is cheating just because she's a Chinese athlete who broke old records. We never think that about Western athletes. Marion Jones of the U.S. and Ben Johnson of Canada would probably disagree, but, you know, facts and all, and besides the Chinese athletic organizations have never done anything like this less than a month ago.
I mean in the sense that even though the performance enhancing-drugs would be cheating, their absence would still leave Ye as the product of a dehumanizing, brutal and just plain evil system that created her. Check out these two stories in The Daily Mail and the accompanying pictures. As in, check out the picture of a little girl sitting on the floor with her feet resting on blocks while an adult stands on her knees. Or of the two little girls on their stomachs, trying to keep their arms and legs off the floor while an adult with a long paddle stands behind them.
Now, I don't think many athletic training facilities in the U.S. offer that kind of coaching service. Even if I'm off on that, we still have to face the reality that such a system would rely on the voluntary -- even though blatantly wrong -- actions of some seriously misguided parents. We're not talking about a system in which children are selected by governmental agencies and removed from their homes without much more than a receipt saying, "Thank you for your generous contribution to our glorious athletic program. It won't be forgotten -- and neither will you, so watch what you say."
Were the International Olympic Committee an organization that practiced a tenth of what it preaches, Chinese athletes (and probably North Korean ones as well) wouldn't be allowed past the arena door. Neither, back in the day, would those from the old Soviet Union, East Germany or other old Warsaw Pact powers. Its motto is citius, altius, fortius, or "faster, higher, stronger," meaning that athletes compete to excel and to better their own performances as well as the performances of others.
But to be worth anything, that motto supposes that the ability and drive to be faster, higher and stronger comes from the athlete's own heart and desire -- not from a needle and a whip.