James Diamond ©ITG

It is sad to admit, but if I have learnt one thing from my first four months at insidethegames, it is that money and politics are ruining the Olympics.

Not only that, they are ruining global sport.

When I first started here, I thought the Olympic Games was an example of humanity at its best.

After all, it is not your average sports event. It promotes peace, inclusion and cooperation on a scale unlike any other competition. No other event could inspire North and South Korea to compete together, or draw attention to the plight of refugees in the way the Olympics has.

But too often the way the Games is run seems to show off the worst of us.

Take the Russian doping scandal as an example.

One of the primary Olympic values is that of fair play. Alongside friendship and cooperation, it is hailed as gospel at each Olympic Opening Ceremony and International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach and co also regularly refer to these values in their day-to-day work.

Russia's reinstatement into the Olympic Movement has been described as
Russia's reinstatement into the Olympic Movement has been described as "the greatest treachery against clean athletes in Olympic history" ©Getty Images 

But if the IOC truly cared about the principle of fair play and were committed to protecting it, Russia would still be banned.

Individual athletes who test positive for prohibited substances are regularly banned for four years. As an example, the Kenyan marathon runner Samuel Kalalei was given exactly that sentence only two days ago.

Russia, however, who conspired to cheat the Olympics on the largest scale ever known, were exiled for only two.

Now, if the Russians had done all that has been asked of them to right their wrongs, and it had only taken them two years, then that would be fair enough.

But they have been welcomed back with open arms without either accepting the McLaren Report or allowing investigators to enter the now infamous Moscow Anti-Doping Laboratory, as they were asked to do.

As a result, the decision to bring Russia back was described in various quarters as a "catastrophe", "sad" and a "tragedy". For clean sport, that is precisely what it was.

But the IOC, and later the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), both decided it no longer suited them to have Russia banned, so they ignored the very principles on which they were formed.

And what makes it worse is that to try and justify their actions, they patronised those who disagreed by claiming they did not understand the situation well enough to comment.

Beckie Scott has alleged she was bullied by members of the Olympic Movement for suggesting Russia should remain banned ©Getty Images
Beckie Scott has alleged she was bullied by members of the Olympic Movement for suggesting Russia should remain banned ©Getty Images

Bach claimed critics had "misinterpreted" the decision. Dick Pound said criticism was "misdirected" and WADA President Sir Craig Reedie metaphorically washed his hands of the whole affair and suggested critical athletes should come up with their own solution instead.

That in itself is all pretty terrible. 

But then there is the esports saga, and the very real possibility that gaming could become an Olympic sport in time for the 2028 Los Angeles Olympics.

Again, if the IOC were true to their values, esports would be nowhere near the Games.

After all, the Olympic motto "faster, higher, stronger" is intrinsically linked to physical prowess and the Games was created as a platform for the world's best athletes to perform.

But esports players are not athletes. Esports require no physical exertion at all.

Indeed, despite the name, esports are in fact not a sport, as the dictionary definition dictates that physical exertion is a crucial factor.

The IOC clearly know all this, because Bach has previously talked about "getting couch potatoes off the couch".

But again, they are deciding to ignore the multitude of reasons against introducing esports to the Olympics, for one simple reason.

Money.

The esports industry is hugely profitable and growing in value all the time. By the end of this year, revenue created by esports is expected to hit $905 million (£692 million/€778 million) and by 2020 its global audience is likely to be 600 million people.

IOC member Patrick Baumann has suggested esports players are as fit as any Olympic athlete ©Getty Images
IOC member Patrick Baumann has suggested esports players are as fit as any Olympic athlete ©Getty Images

In the face of growing costs within their own Movement, the IOC want a piece of the financial pie. It is as simple as that.

But the IOC will not dare admit this, because it would mean admitting they are ignoring their own values.

Instead, they try and come up with sporting excuses for why esports deserve their place on the programme.

For example, Patrick Baumann, an IOC member and President of the Global Association of International Sports Federations, made the incredibly sweeping claim that esports players are "as fit as athletes who compete at World Championships or Olympic Games".

There has also been the claim - with no evidence to back it up - that people who play sporting video games like FIFA 19 are then encouraged to play the sport for real, meaning esports can therefore help encourage people to take up real sport.

And let's not forget the suggestion that professional esports players deserve to be called athletes on a level par with marathon runners, or triathletes, or cyclists to name just a few sports, because some of them train their wrists in the gym to avoid repetitive strain injuries. 

In a similarly ridiculous comment regarding the Russian doping scandal, the chair of the IOC Athletes' Commission Kirsty Coventry said the ending of Russia's Olympic ban was fair enough because their neutral team at Pyeongchang 2018 was "cleaner than anyone else".

This of course, is just downright false, considering two Russians at the Games tested positive for banned substances.

Some argue esports players should be considered athletes equal to those in more traditional sports such as triathlon ©Getty Images
Some argue esports players should be considered athletes equal to those in more traditional sports such as triathlon ©Getty Images

It seems they feel forced to come up with these crazy statements regardless though, because there is no sensible way of justifying their decisions.

Unless that is, they are willing to admit that they are ignoring the Movement's own principles.

I could go on, but the Russia and esports cases are the two most recent and, in my view, the most striking examples of how the Olympic Movement has lost its way.

We are repeatedly told that it is "all about the athletes" but these days that is clearly not the case.

If it was, would Beckie Scott - the former IOC Athlete Committee member - have come out yesterday and claimed she was "belittled" and "bullied" by "members of the Olympic Movement" for suggesting Russia should not be reinstated by WADA?

If it really was "all about the athletes", would members of the WADA Executive Committee laughed at her when she read a list of athletes who had publicly called on the agency not to reinstate Russia, as she claims they did?

Scott clearly thinks not.

She stated her belief to BBC Sport that it is indicative "of the lack of regard for the athlete voice generally".

Sadly, this is the reality of the Olympic Movement today. It has been poisoned to the core by money and politics.

Despite the claims, the athletes are the last thing it is "all about", and if nothing is done about it, I can only see the problems of the Movement getting worse.

I still think the Olympic Games is the best sporting event on the planet, but the IOC seem to be trying very hard to change that.