Latest entry

Would you be surprised to learn that Chris Hoy's bike broke two days before the start of Olympic competition in Beijing? Thought so. Chris Boardman made the revelation in his presentation to UK Sport's annual World Class Coaching conference this week.

The story's a remarkable tale of ingenuity, bush mechanics at its finest. As you know, it had a golden ending. Well, several. It goes a bit like this:

Continue reading "When Hoy's bid almost hit the buffers"

Recent entries

Locog - the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games - is being a bit coy about confirming the story that Cadburys are to become another of its tier-two sponsors.

Sorry, no puns here about sweeteners or flake-y deals, but in this current cascade of bad news about cash and confidence, it is good to know that Locog isn't running short of either.

Continue reading "Locog bullish in a bear market"

The International Olympic Committee's plan to retest samples from the Beijing Games is proof that it intends to walk the talk on doping.

How times have changed. A couple of decades ago, there remained a sense of embarrassment about doping within the Olympic movement, a feeling that having to test was a necessary evil. Any positives were treated like a red sock in the white wash, something that tarnished the movement's image. In other words, it was best not to draw attention to them.

Not any more. IOC president Jacques Rogge, the medical man, sees doping for what it is: Fraud that threatens sport's credibility.

Continue reading "IOC steps up war on dopers"

Ukrainian heptahlete Lyudmila Blonska was exposed five years ago as a drugs cheat.

If she were British she wouldn't have been at the Beijing Games, because the British Olympic Association's bye law, still intact after Dwain Chambers' recent challenge, would have prevented her.

The lifetime ban which will now surely follow once the IOC and IAAF have concluded the disciplinary process against her will hopefully bring to an end a career built on a lie.

Sources say this latest infringement is another steroid case, just as it was in 2003, when she was first banned for two years.

Continue reading "Drug cheats getting comeuppance"

Wukesong Sports Centre, Beijing

USA versus China. The battle at the top of the medals table was distilled on the baseball diamond last night. Not much of a contest you'd think, and you'd be right. USA battered the Chinese 9-1, but the scoreline doesn't tell the whole story.

The game had chugged along politely to the fifth inning, with the US 1-0 ahead. China were struggling to get bat on ball, the US making it look like a gentle workout. China have no pedigree in the sport, haven't got the nuances or the etiquette that come with a century or more of obsession with the ball-park.

Continue reading "When cultures, (and basemen), collide"

Olympic Green Archery Field

A bit like the sailors at currently windless Qingdao, Britain's medal tally has hit the doldrums over the last couple of days.

There was concern this first week was going to be slow, and to be honest, so it has proved.

Apart from the swimmers, who've had a great Olympics, and the cycling team who will undoubtedly be Britain's biggest providers, there's been disappointment elsewhere.

Nothing out of judo, diving, badminton, tennis, shooting - and now archery, where I've been spending my time over the last few days.

Archery had a target of two medals, and managed only a 4th place in the women's team event.

Let's add some context to that.


Continue reading "Coping with the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune"

If this Games was taking place pretty much anywhere else in the world, it would be a tout's dream.

Officially, it's a sell-out, all 6.8m tickets have gone, every session sold. Tourists here are desperate to get in, but tickets are extremely difficult to come by.

Touting's illegal in China, 29 men were picked up in a recent police sweep of those chancing their arm on Beijing's streets.

And yet, our commentators at the venues are all reporting the same thing, and the TV pictures are bearing this out, there are empty seats everywhere.

Continue reading "Empty seats strike bum note"

Sport and politics shouldn't mix.

I heard it in a press conference again today, from a Chinese journalist who was ascribing that principle to the IOC, and asking what the rules were about protests or demonstrations by athletes during the opening ceremony.

Earlier this week, Jacques Rogge proclaimed the IOC to be an idealist organisation, adding perhaps that made them naive sometimes. Frequently cute, I'd say.

The sport and politics argument is always a matter of degrees. It's where you draw the line that counts, but every once in a while along comes an example that makes a mockery of the principle.

Let me tell you something about the flag bearer of the US team: he's called Lopez Lomong, and he's living proof that sport and politics can't be separated.

Continue reading "Lomong proves sport and politics do mix"


Professor Arne Ljunqvist is a scientist whose entire inclination is to deal in facts.

He's not a man prone to exaggeration or hysteria.

So when the Chairman of the IOC's Medical Commission, and Vice President of Wada calls the suspension of seven Russian women athletes a case of, "systematic planned cheating," we need to take notice.

I know the women concerned haven't faced their disciplinary hearings yet, and are protesting their innocence, but let's just think about this again.

Continue reading "Why Russian drug tests could be tip of much bigger scandal"

That was a good effort by Jacques Rogge at his first media conference of the Games.

There was a sense of irritation around the place, but (to push the metaphor deep into Alan Partridge territory) he applied the presidential calamine lotion.

After nearly a week of tetchy exchanges between the media and BOCOG about the imperfect internet access, Rogge kicked off his address with a carefully chosen remark about the Athletes' village, describing it as "the best ever".

That's quite a compliment from a man with 40 years' experience of the games, deliberately served up as a subtle reminder that the Olympics is about the athletes and their experience, not gripes from journalists about our working conditions.

Continue reading "Rogge the statesman pours oil on troubled waters"

We went out for a meal on Wednesday evening and had to get back to the Broadcast Centre on Olympic Green afterwards - a 25-minute walk, according to those in the know.

But they hadn't reckoned on my legendary sense of direction, or indeed that of my esteemed colleague Vassos Alexander, about whom it is said, could get lost on his way back from the canteen to his desk at Television Centre.

Full of duck, and needing the exercise, we set off, with the distant lights from the TV tower by the main stadium to guide us. Snag is, there's a fence of Olympic proportions. Its purpose is to thwart unwelcome visitors and, boy, were we thwarted.

Continue reading "Lost on the Olympic Green"

The Chinese security guard looked a worried man after putting my suitcase through the scanner.

So did his colleagues, all five of them, and when his supervisor arrived the offending item in my bag was subjected to a level of scrutiny that bordered on the forensic.

I was carrying a suitcase full of electronic equipment: a satellite phone, lap-top, digital recorder, you name it but the object that really concerned them was... a cricket bat.

Continue reading "A brush with airport officialdom"

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites