Commentary

IOC Brings Hammer Down On Doping, I Mean, Social Media

Thank goodness! After years of public outcry and criticism, the International Olympic Committee is finally getting tough on doping, no sorry, I mean social media. Alert to the menace posed by athletes wielding Facebook and Twitter accounts, the IOC has issued the strictest rules yet for athletes’ social media activity, all of which may be summarized: don’t piss off the official sponsors.

Under “Rule 40” of the Olympic charter, athletes may not have any interaction with any non-Olympic sponsor during the games, at risk of potential punishments including various sanctions and even loss of their medals. Similarly, non-Olympic sponsors can’t make any reference to the Olympics, however vague, in any social media communication with athletes during the period from July 27 to August 24: that means that if a sponsor posted a message like “Good Luck!” during that period, the athlete on whose page it appeared could get in trouble.

In fact, non-Olympic sponsors can’t even re-tweet or share social media messages from athletes during the blackout period, again at risk of getting the athlete into hot water with the powers that see. Draconian much? Meanwhile the list of banned words for non-Olympic sponsors during the blackout includes: “2016 Rio,” “Rio de Janeiro,” “Medal,” “Performance,” “Challenge,” and “Effort.” Yes, you read that right, the word “effort” is right out.

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In order to avoid punishments including getting keelhauled in the toxic sludge of Rio de Janeiro’s Guanabara Bay, Olympic athletes have spent the last few weeks getting all their social media thanks and acknowledgements to non-Olympic sponsors out of the way before the blackout period begins. Thus American steeplechase competitor Emma Coburn tweeted: “#Rule40 starts tomorrow so I won't be able to say Thank You to my sponsor. THANK YOU FOR EVERYTHING @newbalance.”

In unrelated news, Russia announced that its athletes will be posting to social media directly from their minds.

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