It’s a bad day to be a Russian track athlete. As expected, the IAAF announced that due to a continued "culture of tolerance, or worse, for doping," a ban against Russia’s track and field competitors will not be lifted for the Rio Olympics, and now the country’s top runners, jumpers, and throwers are left in a bind: Unless they can "clearly and convincingly" prove their innocence, they won’t be allowed to compete in Rio.
But what if there were another way? What if, instead of going home, Russia’s athletes doubled down and held their own, PED-tastic Games, and tried to break every last world record in existence with the help of any chemical they could get their hands on? We’re here to discuss the potential for the first-ever Doper’s Olympics.
Matt Borcas: The responsible course of action would be to accept the ban with dignity, keep training, and focus on getting clean, but that’s far less exciting than option no. 2: hosting a full-fledged Doper’s Olympics, wherein PEDs are not only tolerated but required.
Claire McNear: I want these athletes juicing. I want them coming together in passionate, patriotic unity and giving each other passionate, patriotic shots to the buttocks. Let their cups runneth over with ’roids and every illicit, muscle-inflating substance under the sun, and let’s see what the human body* can do. Open it up to the whole world. BRING ON THE ASTERISK GAMES!
Borcas: The Asterisk Games have a readymade, Zika-free stadium in Sochi, and would make for riveting TV. Shit, the Russian government could put it on PPV and instantly solve its national debt crisis. The gambling opportunities would be insane — I’d set the over-under for the men’s 100 meters at a brisk 9.00 seconds — and doped-up athletes from around the world could flock to Russia to test the limits of human performance. We already know how fast Usain Bolt can run under the threat of a positive test, but we have no idea what he’s capable of with the help of Victor Conte, Bill Nye the Science Guy, and the Biogenesis "doctors." It’s time to find out.
McNear: We’ve been squandering the sinister talents of our world’s premier doping doctors: All this time, they’ve been trying to build creations that can be hidden in samples and will improve users, but not enough to raise any red flags. Let’s line every last road in Sochi with red flags. The Doper’s Olympics as a pay-per-view event is genius: I would pay cold, hard rubles for the chance to see high jumpers clear living giraffes. (Can we get giraffes?) And think of all the athletes of yesteryear we could bring back! Dehydrochlormethyltestosterone might not be the fountain of youth, but it’s a damn good start. Lance Armstrong was never really believable as a hero — now that he’s into running, let’s see him go full heel, pump that blood full of O2, and take over track.
Borcas: I want to see Maria Sharapova embrace her inner Ivan Drago. She can spend the next month at a remote training camp in Siberia mainlining meldonium to her heart’s content, and resurface in Sochi to win gold for the home crowd. Likewise, I’d want to see how the trampolining events play out. Could humans overpower gravity? Probably not, but you never know!
Meanwhile, in an incredibly unsurprising development, Vladimir Putin has deemed the IAAF’s decision "unfair." I can’t imagine a more fitting host for the Asterisk Games.
McNear: I don’t think Putin should host the Games — I think he should compete in them. Has there ever been a head of state more perfectly primed to tear shit up (with the help, given that Vlad is now 63 years young, of a supplement or two)? Teddy Roosevelt might have given him a run for his money, but the ol’ Bull Moose missed the boat on cryogenics. So we’re left with Putin: Judo, dressage, swimming, shooting, polar bear wrestling (to go with the giraffes) — you name the event and he’s got it on lock. Let’s start printing his name on the gold medals now.
Borcas: Between the giraffes, polar bears, Putin, and otherworldly performances, there’s no way the Asterisk Games wouldn’t be a hit. Clean athletes and dopers both would get their way, and all the relevant governing bodies would become richer. This makes too much sense not to happen. I can’t wait to see if anyone can throw a javelin across the Bering Strait.