Why I’m Still Bitter About Something 7 Years Later

(February 18, 2021) — Okay, so it’s been a little while since I’ve posted on there, and this is all after I’d REALLY promised that I’d write more non-sliding sport stuff over here. But let me tell you, a condensed sliding sport season absolutely beat me up. Since New Years I haven’t slept later than 6:00 AM, and with no break in either the IBSF or FIL schedules meant a lot of busy weekends and needing the weeknights to catch up on the stuff I’d normally knock out on the weekends. But either way, here we are.

So this general space is going to be mostly non-sliding sport stuff, but for this one we’re going to talk about sliding sports (and sports in general) and why I’m still bitter about something like seven years later. The thing that brought this up is this particular Facebook Memory that popped up this evening:

That guy on the left is Steven Holcomb. On the right is Steven Langton. If for some strange reason you don’t know, Holcomb is the greatest bobsled pilot my particular country has ever had. Langton is one of the greatest brakeman we’ve ever had. What they’re holding are bronze medals from the two-man bobsled race in the 2014 Winter Olympic Games. It was a heck of an accomplishment and something to be entirely proud of.

But here’s the thing: The medal he earned was a silver medal. The guy who won gold at the race itself was Alexander Zubkov, who was all doped up. Alexander Kasjanov, who finished fourth, also was all doped up. After the doping revelations of Grigory Rodchenkov and then the McLaren Report both Zubkov and Kasjanov were banned for periods of time by the IBSF, WADA, and eventually CAS. Ironically, as all of this was going on Kasjanov had the audacity to put this on his sled:

Courtesy IBSF TV

So back to the post with Holcomb and Langton. After everything, Holcomb and Langton (and later in four-man Holcomb, Langton, Curt Tomasevicz, and Christopher Fogt) were upgraded to the silver medal they’d actually earned. But between Sochi and that happening Holcomb tragically passed away. So the legend of the sport, the greatest the United States has ever had, never got to receive the medals he’d actually earned. That was robbed from him and that’s infuriating.

Listen, there’s a lot of things that are REALLY crappy about the whole RUSADA/Sochi thing, some of which are still going on today. WADA just threw down a four year ban of Russian athletics that was pared down by CAS to a slap on the wrist. What that inevitably means is more of this going forward, and more athletes still not knowing if the events they’re competing in are actually fair. In the winter sports world that I follow there are still athletes who have been implicated in various things competing, which at various times lead to eye rolls so hard you could get a migrane.

Do I have a solution for all of this? Not anything that hasn’t already been discussed. But today that picture of Holcomb popped up and I first thought “oh man, those were good times” and then immediately went to “that was all kind of bullcrap, right?” And here we are. Hopefully clean sport will prevail, and the sports that we all so love will be fair and open to everyone, but as long as CAS keeps giving organizations like RUSADA a pass, I’m going to keep getting upset about things just like this.