How the Russians break the Olympic rules

Should the United States support the Moscow Olympics? The answer is a categorical No! Why? Simply because the Soviet Union has, for a long time, blatantly violated the Olympic rules, and it violated them again this year in Lake Placid. All the Olympic teams of the USSR have always consisted only of professional athletes, and yet the participation of professional athletes in the Olympic Games is strictly forbidden. Why does the International Olympic Committee condone Soviet policy in this matter?

Sports careers in the USSR are professional careers, just as are the careers of scholars in institutes, teachers in schools, and workers in factories. Soviet athletes are employedm by their clubs. The best and wealthiest of those clubs belong to the Ministry of Defense and the KGB, the Soviet secret police. They are the Central Club of the Army and "Dynamo." These two clubs supply the best athletes for Olympic teams of the USSR: the best gymnasts, boxers, hockey and soccer players, figure skaters.Three-time Olympic gold medal winners in figure skating, Irina Rodnina and Alexander Zaitsev, are, for example, "products" of the Soviet Army club.

Every branch of industry in the USSR is run by a ministry while the sport industry enjoys a special status: It is run by a special governmental Committee of Sports, an organ of the USSR Council of Ministers. This committee hires, fires, and retires the athletes, controls their trading, and selects candidates for various Olympic teams. The decisions of this committee concerning the participation of athletes in the Soviet Olympic teams must be approved and confirmed by the Central Committee of the Communist Party. It is not a coincidence that the Soviet Olympic Committee is headed by Ignaty Novikov, a member of the party's Central Committee and the vice-president of the Council of Ministers.

One must admit that working in a Soviet sport club is not an easy job. Training is held year round, eight hours per day, according to special "heavy load programs." During the most intensive training periods, before the beginning of a sport season or before important international competitions, even contacts with families are forbidden.

According to Soviet standards, however, the earnings and benefits of the professional athletes are fabulous. A family car costs 10,000 to 12,000 rubles in the Soviet Union. Neither blue-collar nor white-collar workers, whose average monthly income ranges between 120 and 140 rubles, can afford to own a car. The average age of Soviet professional athletes is 18-22, yet every single one of them has a car.

The question is: When did these young men make money to buy those cars?In which kind of a job were they able to make so much money? The answer is simple -- as professional athletes.

In the Soviet Union, professional athletes earn two and even three or four times more money than factory workers, physicians, engineers, or educators. The higher the athlete's achievements, the higher the earnings and better the chances to have a decent apartment.

Most people must wait an average of 5-10 years to be assigned an apartment. By law, a Soviet citizen is entitled to no more than 9 square meters (about 97 square feet) of living space. In other words, a family of three is entitled to an apartment of maximum 27 square meters (291 square feet). Translated into number of rooms, this means an apartment of one single room, which serves as a living room, bedroom, dining room plus kitchen. A Soviet athlete who is a member of an Olympic team and has a comparable, three-member family obtains, without any waiting, at least two rooms and a kitchen, while Olympic champions can easily obtain a three-room apartment with kitchen, in the best possible location in town.

The number of such "privileged" athletes in the USSR is not large. Their social "caste" consists of some 200-250 people. They cost the government a pretty penny, but the government also makes huge profits from them.International meetings of the hockey and soccer teams, boxers, and figure skaters bring to the Soviet treasury much needed foreign currency, while Olympic records provide even more important political capital.

In sport, the Soviet government does a tremendous business, thanks to its professional athletes, just as it does when it sends abroad its actors, ballet dancers, and musicians.

Why doesn't the International Olympic Committee form a committee to investigate the status of the Soviet athletes who take part in Olympic Games?

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