Alan Hubbard

Now that Thomas Bach has established passing the buck as an Olympic sport, Rio can get on with its Jogos Olímpicos de Verão de 2016 - that’s the XXXI Olympic Games to the rest of us - with contributions from Mother Russia.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) President and his acolytes may well have bottled it, to coin a phrase, over the Russian doping issue but once the samba rhythm starts to play across Rio’s theatres of dreams from Friday week, much of the murky machinations that have bedevilled the build-up to what hopefully is still the greatest sporting show on earth will be forgotten - for the moment anyway. 

A cop-out on the Copacabana it may be, but once the Olympic cauldron lights up all the world will want to see and hear about are the wonders of sporting endeavour and achievement.

Unless, of course, one - or more - of the Russians now invited to Rio to compete fails a drugs test.

That really would open up a whole new can of worms and in that eventuality, I wonder if the IOC, to cover their backs, should now declare that any Russian testing positive in Rio would result in his or her sport being barred automatically from the next Olympics in Tokyo.

It might also vindicate, to a degree, their perverse decision to allow the International Federations themselves - outside Seb Coe’s International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) who have bravely excluded Russia and established the legal right to do so – to decide who goes and who stays behind.

Thomas Bach may face less criticism when the Olympic Games begin ©Getty Images
Thomas Bach may face less criticism when the Olympic Games begin ©Getty Images

I strongly believe that red-carding the entire Russian Olympic team would have been the salutary lesson the world needs about doping and one that would lead to Russia's sporting proletariat upping arms, figuratively speaking, against Putin and the nation’s sports leaders to ensure Russian sport is thoroughly cleansed.

After all, Russia knows a bit about revolutions...

In a way though I can well understand the ire of those supposedly clean members of the Russian track and field team who are barred alongside their cheating compatriots.

They will know the sporting public have short memories. I bet you won’t hear a single boo or jeer when the American double-cheat Justin Gatlin gets on his mark for the 100 metres. It will confirm my long-held view that the average fan doesn’t give a hoot about doping, all they want is to see a damn good show.

There will be dozens of athletes like Gatlin who have failed tests in their time, have been ‘rehabilitated’ and will be strolling around the Olympic Village, plus many more who have cheated and got away with it. And you can be sure some are still getting away with it.

With the Olympics these days it is not so much seeing is believing, but idly wondering if there is a chemist as well as a coach in the winner’s entourage.

But as I say, once the running, jumping, splashing and sploshing gets underway, once again it will be a case of the Games are the thing that matters.

From Britain’s standpoint I believe we will do well, but not quite as illustriously as in London four years ago. None the less, fistfuls of golds will be awarded once medals are draped around necks and no doubt Queen Elizabeth is sharpening her ceremonial sword ready to dub the shoulders of a few Brits achieving even greater glory.

Surely it will have to be Sir Mo if Farah is successful again, while cyclist Chris Froome after his third victory in Le Tour (another first for Britain) has only to stay in business in Rio to get a knighthood to follow in the tyre tracks of Sir Bradley Wiggins, Sir Chris Hoy and, of course, Sir Dave Brailsford, commander in chief of the wheely brigade.

Should Andy Murray add another Olympic title in the year of his second Wimbledon crown, no doubt he too can be booking a limo and top hat and tails for Buckingham Palace at the end of the year.

And whatever else the Games throw up, surely it has to be Dame Nicola Adams, the fight game’s first lady, if she successfully defends her historic Olympic title of 2012 to add to the successes she has enjoyed since then, including World, European and Commonwealth Championships.

Adams will now set her sights on becoming the first British boxer since Harry Mallin in 1924 to successfully defend an Olympic gold medal.

Will Nicola Adams be made a Dame if she tastes more success in Rio? ©Getty Images
Will Nicola Adams be made a Dame if she tastes more success in Rio? ©Getty Images

However, she will have learned enough from her experience in the World Championships in Astana not to take Rio gold for granted.

In particular, she will be wary of the 20-year-old Yu-Ting Li of Chinese Taipei, who gave her plenty of problems in their recent World Championship quarter-final and could emerge as her major challenger.

And may I say that while Russia’s top boxers will all be in Rio, none, thankfully, will have had professional experience.

One would hope that Dr C K Wu’s ill-conceived baby has been put to bed but you can be sure the International Boxing Association (AIBA) will be pressing for professionals at Tokyo 2020.

Meantime, news of a former Olympic boxing hero, now a pro. Amir Khan, who is still awaiting that well-overdue gong he deserves by the way.

Once again Khan finds himself at the crossroads of his career. But this time he may have nowhere to go - except India.

After his valiant but painfully abortive attempt to overcome Canelo Alvarez, the 29-year-old former world light-welterweight champion is in limbo.

So crushing was his KO defeat by the Mexican that his worthiness as an attraction in the United States is obviously greatly devalued. No promoter there sees him as a world class sell-able commodity any more. 

Top Rank’s Bob Arum even savaged him thus: “Amir Khan means absolutely nothing in the United States. He brought over no people for the Canelo fight. He saved the Brits a lot of agony.

“He is not a draw on PPV in England. He is looked upon on both sides of the pond as yesterday’s news, and yet he refuses to recognise that and feels that his value is very, very high, which it is not.”

Harsh words indeed, but certainly with Kell Brook otherwise engaged, opportunities for a big money bout here seem non-existent.

Realistically, it is becoming apparent that Amir’s best hope for another bumper pay day would be to accept the challenge from Vijender Singh for a catchweight contest in Delhi at some time in the future.

Since Singh opened up his homeland for pro boxing last week by winning the WBO Asia-Pacific super-middleweight title against Aussie Kerry Hope, speculation about him meeting Khan has escalated.

A fight with Indian Vijender Singh could await Amir Khan ©Getty Images
A fight with Indian Vijender Singh could await Amir Khan ©Getty Images

There is no doubt that a clash between Queensberry’s Star of India and a world renowned Brit of Pakistani heritage, both of whom are Olympic medallists (Khan won silver at 17 in Athens and Singh bronze in Beijing, India’s first Olympic boxing medal) would really set pro boxing alight on the sub-continent.

Not only does it make sense - it would certainly make a huge stash of rupees for both.

But Khan warned Vijender: "Be careful of what you wish for, kid," before adding: “I find Vijender's challenge quite funny. I will ruin his career.

"Before calling out big names like me, he needs to build up his experience. Some fighters do get very ambitious."

Bolton’s Khan, who recently underwent wrist surgery, says that he would love to fight Vijender but he feels the 30-year-old Sikh sensation needs a couple of more years of pro experience.

However he acknowledges: "You've got the India-Pakistan connection and that will make this bout huge. It will be like India-Pakistan in cricket.”

Absolutely, which is why I have a hunch this might happen sooner than we think.