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Montreal Canadiens, Stephen A. Smith, and the idiots of July


1. USOC

Image for article titled Idiots of the Month: Dumb stuff from July

Illustration: Getty Images

Let’s be blunt: Sha’Carri Richardson might have smoked some weed, but it’s the United States Olympic Committee that’s the dope in this story.

Richardson, the 21-year-old sprinter who won the 100 meters at the U.S. Olympic trials in June, tested positive for marijuana after that race, and unlike so many drug test flunkers before her, actually admitted that she’d done it. No false positives, no secondhand smoke excuse, no threats of lawsuits to clear her name.

After testing positive for the non-performance enhancing drug, Richardson explained that having just learned of the death of her biological mother, she smoked. That’s legal in Oregon, where she did it, but a no-no while in competition. While, yes, that is a rule, and there are penalties for breaking the rules, there also are loads of examples of governing bodies bending or flat-out ignoring the same rules when they see fit.

These very Olympics, for instance, feature not Russia, but Team ROC, as after getting caught up in a state-sponsored doping program — actual performance enhancers — Russia got the boot from the Games. Just not the country’s various athletes. The big penalty is that none of us get to hear Russia’s national anthem, arguably the best in the world, when they win a gold medal, the athletes’ uniforms don’t say Russia, and they compete under an Olympic flag instead of the nation’s tricolor.

The USOC didn’t even have to keep Richardson home. Her one-month suspension precluded her from running the 100m in Tokyo, but the way the Olympic schedule lined up, not the 4×100 relay. Still, the idiots at the USOC decided to leave her on this side of the Pacific. Over a few puffs of a legal drug, America’s sports leaders decided to put the kibosh on her Olympic dreams, penalized the rest of the relay team by not including the nation’s top sprinter, and even denied its TV partner, NBC, a chance to make the most of her story — exactly the kind of emotional thing that Olympic coverage thrives on.

Meanwhile, American fencer Alen Hadzic, accused of sexual misconduct by three women, got to go to Tokyo, as an arbitrator ruled he was eligible to compete. Hadzic, who was suspended from Columbia University for the 2013-14 school year amid an “investigation involving sexual consent,” had to stay away from the rest of the team, which didn’t even want him there, but he was still allowed to go and be an Olympian — an alternate, only there to compete if another American swordsman had to pull out.

The USOC was fine with all that, ruling that Hadzic could move to a hotel closer to the Olympic training center after his initial banned-from-the-athletes-village accommodations were half an hour away. They bent over backwards for him, while going out of their way to make Richardson’s punishment as severe as they could. Idiots.



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