3 Stories: Report From Rio, Brazil's Chance At Soccer Gold, The War On Doping

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Neymar will be leading the charge for Brazil's Olympic squad, which has a chance to put the team's harrowing World Cup 2014 exit in the past. (Celso Junior/Getty Images)
Neymar will lead the charge for Brazil's Olympic soccer squad, which has a chance to put the team's harrowing World Cup 2014 exit in the past. (Celso Junior/Getty Images)

The 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro are underway. We "open" the "ceremony" that is "3 Stories You Should Know" with a discussion of why a smooth Rio roll-out is so hard to believe for so many people.

Shira Springer of the Boston Globe and Patrick Hruby of Vice Sports join Bill Littlefield.

1. The Olympic Doomsday Narrative

We've heard — once or twice...or maybe three times — that the sky is falling in Rio. Shira Springer is in Rio, and she tells us that while, yes, there are problems, things are not as bad as some speculated. And she's wondering: why do we always project doomsday onto the Olympics as the games approach? And what does this reporting narrative leave out?

I'm in Rio now, about two miles from the Olympic Park, and I've gone running and haven't been attacked by mosquitoes, walked around at night, and actually felt pretty safe. The sky really isn't falling here in Brazil, despite alarming reports. ... I wonder if this is all fair to the host country?

2. Brazilian Soccer's Chance For Redemption

In spite of called-for and uncalled-for panic in Rio, there will be two weeks of elite, international competition. The men's soccer tournament, Bill Littlefield reckons, could well prove to be Brazil's redemption song after its national team's disastrous exit from the 2014 World Cup (which took place, of course, in Brazil). Could Olympic gold ease the national pain and embarrassment that followed the squad's 7-1 lost to Germany in Belo Horizonte just two summers ago?

After all the bad news leading up to these Olympics, Brazil really needs a win and no win would be more more significant to them than a gold medal in soccer. ... The celebration would be nationwide, it would be great and maybe nobody needs a nationwide celebration any more than Brazil does right now.

3. A Dopey Doping Philosophy?

Like so many of us, Patrick Hruby has been following the latest performance enhancement news that implicates Russia in state-sponsored doping. Yes. It's bad. But he understands that the way that the sports world crusades against drugs is both failing and problematic. Is it time to change the nature of our war on PEDs? Or to abandon it altogether?

We test and we police and we're failing. We're failing miserably. We do an awful job of catching athletes who are trying to cheat. So while we're not deterring use, we're not catching users, but what we are doing — and this is the case with every drug prohibition — we push stuff underground.

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This segment aired on August 6, 2016.


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