If one thing is clear at these London Games, it’s that not doing one’s best is not only uncool — it’s not allowed. Witness the badminton-to-worstminton scandal that erupted earlier this week, when players turned the tournament structure into a “farce” by attempting to lose in order to manipulate their seeds in the next round.
That sparked a scandal — and the players were tossed from the competition — leading our own Mike Pesca to write about how common such actions really are. As Mike wrote, “Manipulating the seeding or draws in tournaments has a long tradition in sport. And in the early rounds of track or swimming competitions, athletes who know they’ve qualified for later rounds will routinely not push to win a heat.”
The issue of playing with the rules rose again Thursday, when British track cyclist Philip Hindes, a 19-year-old member of Great Britain’s sprint team, said that his early crash — which gave a restart to his team, which then went on to win the gold medal — had not been an accident.
In that interview moments after the race, Hindes said it was part of a plan. According to the AP, he said that “if we have a bad start we need to crash to get a restart.”
And the BBC reports:
“‘I just crashed, I did it on purpose to get a restart, just to have the fastest ride,’ said the 19-year-old afterwards.”
“But British Cycling said Hindes had been misunderstood due to English not being his first language, and Olympic bosses said they would not investigate.”
“Teams are allowed a second start and Hindes appeared to say he intentionally crashed because the Great Britain team’s start was not good enough.”
Hindes, who was born in Germany, and his two teammates — Jason Kenny and British flagbearer Chris Hoy — went on to win the race, scalding the 250-meter track for three laps in a world-record time of 42.6 seconds.
Speaking at the formal news conference later, Hindes backed off his remarks, clarifying that his rear wheel had slipped out from under him, making him lose control of the bike.
International Olympics Committee officials have reportedly reviewed the race. They said Friday that they do not plan to investigate any further.
The second-place French team’s coach did not seem pleased with the restart. But he also said that if the crash were intentional, the act could not be called cheating. And he noted that at the 2012 Games, the British team was “much stronger” than France’s trio.
“I do think the rules need to be more precise so we don’t find ourselves in an identical situation at another Olympic Games,” said the coach, Florian Rousseau.
On a side note, earlier today, South Korea’s Olympic delegation sent home its four badminton players who were part of the “Badminton Eight” — instead of allowing them to stay for the closing ceremony. And Korean media report that their coach will likely be investigated after the Summer Games.