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What would the Olympics be without a scandal or three?

The maiden scandal of the London Games involved shuttlecocks and why they were purposely being shot into, not over, the net. The answer was strategy. Certain Chinese, South Korean and Indonesian players, since expelled, were not playing to win, all the better to position themselves against lesser rivals in the next round.

The closing scandal of the games involves lollipops. According to a British sports website called Inside The Games (, two of four candidates who were elected to the International Olympic Committee's athletes' commission have been disqualified for breaching incredibly strict electioneering rules.

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The two are both Olympic gold medalists – Japanese hammer thrower Koji Murofushi and Mu-Ye Chu, a Taiwanese tae kwon do athlete.

After their ouster, they were replaced by Zimbabwe's Kirsty Coventry and France's Tony Estanguet.

Their alleged sins seem trivial, but such is the bizarre nature of the athletes' commission electioneering process, which bans most forms of promotion. According to Inside The Games, the IOC accused Chu of handing out sweets – lollipops – to athletes, the allegation being that this was some form of vote-buying gambit. Chu admitted he had received an IOC letter two weeks ago that accused him of distributing sweets, but denies he did so.

For his part, Murofushi was accused of excessive self-promotion, such as distributing promotional material to athletes at their Olympic Village dining hall. The Japanese Olympic Committee has come to his defence, arguing he had not breached electioneering rules. The JOC had been counting on Murofushi's support for the Tokyo 2020 bid.

The IOC's athletes' commission is made up of 12 athletes who remain on the board for eight years. They are elected by the thousands of athletes who participated in the Olympics. The IOC president has the right to appoint up to seven more athletes. The commission is fairly powerful because it gets involved in all of the IOC's main commissions and working group. The chair of the commission serves as a member of the IOC executive board.

The IOC is not giving the impression that the two disqualified candidates will get reinstated. Frankie Fredericks, the Namibian chairman of the athletes' commission, said "The IOC was very clear regarding the rules of conduct. What happened is that we received complaints regarding the campaigning behaviour of the two candidates."

As far as scandals go, the lollipop incident seems silly and trivial. But it does show you that the IOC works in mysterious ways.

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About the Author
European Columnist

Eric Reguly is the European columnist for The Globe and Mail and is based in Rome. Since 2007, when he moved to Europe, he has primarily covered economic and financial stories, ranging from the euro zone crisis and the bank bailouts to the rise and fall of Russia's oligarchs and the merger of Fiat and Chrysler. More


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