Pravda questions Canada

Accuse Olympic hosts of cheating

By MIKE ZEISBERGER, QMI Agency


Canada's Sidney Crosby (left) and Chris Pronger pose with their gold medal in men's Olympic hockey on Sunday. (QMI Agency/Daniel Mallard)

When the Olympic flag was passed on to Russian officials at the conclusion of Vancouver’s spectacular Olympic closing ceremonies, maybe someone should have handed over a few crying towels as well.

Given all the whining coming out of Russia, the host country for the 2014 Winter Games, they probably could have used some.

Having watched its Olympic team underachieve the past two weeks, the lead column Monday in the Russian-based publication Pravda ripped the 2010 Games, even pondering the unsubstantiated accusation that the gold-medal Canadian men's hockey team might have been using performance-enhancing substances.

Said Pravda: "Doesn't it feel great to slam the door behind you as you walk out, stick up the middle finger using the palm of the left hand on the upper right forearm for extra leverage and blow a giant raspberry? That is exactly how it feels as Russia leaves Vancouver after disappointing Games with a question: was the Canadian ice hockey team on drugs?"

Where did that come from? Do the Russians know something that the IOC's drug testers don't? Was there tomfoolery going on while potential Team Canada players were peeing in bottles in the months leading up to arguably the greatest hockey tournament we have ever seen? A little switching of the specimen bottles, perhaps?

If that's the case, we have a question for Pravda: Where’s the evidence to back up those allegations?

Continued Pravda: "The middle finger and the giant raspberry go to the Canadian ice hockey team. Were they on drugs the day they beat Russia so overwhelmingly? These days, and since the USSR's 8-1 thrashing of Canada in the early 80s, Canada-Russia ice hockey games are always very closely fought events and there has not been such a monumental difference between the two sides. Very strange, the more so since the same Team Canada (whatever the hell that is supposed to mean) put in an extremely lacklustre performance against lowly Slovakia and was lucky to reach Sunday's final. And for anyone who is about to be shocked by the question, one supposes it is OK to make cheap and gratuitous references to Russians and doping, but when the ball rolls back home it hurts. Right?"

In the end, it sounds like a lot of sour grapes -- or, in Russian, "????? ????????."

Unless proof of Canadian cheating is provided, we'll stick with the premise that Team Canada crushed Russia 7-3 in the quarterfinal because the Russians were outscored, outhit, outskated, outclassed and outworked.

The stage had been set for Alexander Ovechkin to prove to Canada and the rest of the hockey world that he was the best. Didn't happen. In fact, on the day the gold medal hockey game was held, the only sweat produced by The Great Eight came from participating in the closing ceremonies.

And, by the way, how do you think Alexander The Great feels after watching his rival Sidney Crosby a) beat him in the Stanley Cup playoffs; b) win a Stanley Cup; and b) score an Olympic golden goal on home soil, igniting a coast-to-coast celebration?

All in the span of 10 months.

According to the Pravda column, the entire Russian contingent may have been the target of some fiendish scheme aimed at curtailing their medal count.

"We will never know, will we?" asked Pravda about the potential of the Canadians being on drugs. "We will never know, because the officials at Vancouver predictably did not mete out to the Canadians the shockingly humiliating treatment given to the Russian skier Natalya Korosteleva, asked to produce a urine sample during the break between the quarter-and semi-finals of her event. Had she complied, she would not have had time to enter the semis. And such was the hounding of the Russian athletes that there are rumours many refused to eat for fear their food would be laced with steroids."

Lacing their chow with drugs? Quite the conspiracy theory.

By slagging the Games and the Vancouver area, the Russians are walking on thin ice. Criticize if you like. It’s called freedom of speech. But you certainly are setting the bar higher when the world congregates in Sochi, Russia in 2014.

When you rip others, you expose yourself to be equally slagged. And, after evaluating and dissecting each and every wart of the 2010 Vancouver Games -- even when there didn't seem to be any there at times -- you can bet that any hiccups will be that much more magnified in Sochi.

Especially by many of the so-called experts and observers who considered Vancouver 2010 to be one of the most popular and successful Olympics of all time.

POLL