ANNABEL CRABB August 05, 2012
I WOULD like to see an Olympic Games with more drugs. There: I've said it.
Don't get me wrong. I think the unaugmented powers of the human body are an entrancing and inspiring spectacle, and like many other television viewers I am - within reason - prepared to stay up way past my bedtime to tune in.
Even these Games of the XXX Olympiad, the Too-Much-Information Olympics, in which one's midnight watchfulness is too often rewarded with the salty tears of the unsuccessful, or their detailed explanations for failure, are still worth watching.
(Gold medal excuse so far, by the way, goes to the Aussie shooter Russell Mark, who after loud complaints about not being allowed to share a room with his lovely wife in London now reports that he didn't win anything because his eyesight is not very good. Hmm: Perhaps it does make you go blind, after all.)
But imagine how cool it would be to stage a spin-off Olympics, in which participants were allowed to mess around with their own bodies in any way conceivable.
I would pay good money to watch that, and I'm sure I'm not alone.
At the Freak Olympics, you could take as many drugs as you liked; weightlifters would be deranged, knotted mountains of muscle with two fierce little eyes on top, lifting bulldozers with one hand while clad in the briefest of loincloths.
The swimmers would be on anything they could find. This would have the effect not only of producing freakish feats of speed in the pool, but also of harnessing all the other fields of excellence available to modern nations - chemistry, genetic engineering, and industrial design.
Why stop at drugs? At the Freak Olympics, you could wear the go-faster suits, no problem. In fact, if you wanted to undergo plastic surgery and get webbed fingers and toes, you would be entirely welcome.
Or a giant bony head-fin. Fine. The only rule would be: no mechanical assistance. An outboard motor might be exciting in the pool, but once you're technically a speedboat then it's no longer really a human enterprise really, is it. And the Freak Olympics would still be a human enterprise - only a superhuman one, an exploration of just how crazy fast a person can get, when equipped with all the enhancements the modern world can possibly supply.
Beyond motors, I don't draw the line anywhere. Countries would be encouraged to breed athletes strategically, and vials of Usain Bolt or Michael Phelps semen would be supplied at reasonable prices controlled by the IOC so as to make the building-blocks of excellence equitably available even to developing countries.
Genetic intersplicing with other species would also be permitted.
Imagine a synchronised swimming event contested by a sleek bevy of otterpeople!
Or the thrill of the steeplechase, fought out by actual centaurs! Don't tell me centaurs are un-Olympian. The damn Parthenon's encrusted with them.
Obviously, the issue of sportsmanship in the badminton world has made a nasty appearance this week; thousands of spectators hissed and booed in London as eight players, from China, Indonesia and South Korea, shuffled about the courts biffing their shuttlecocks into the net because they wanted to lose, hence gaming the match draw.
That's cheating, and it's boring cheating at that. Growing a genetically-engineered, extensible bat-hand, though - now, that's fascinating cheating, and it would be entirely permissible at the Freak Olympics.
This is not a radical idea. All sorts of shows have daft spin-offs - just ask the producers of Law & Order: Garden Gnome Theft Division, or whatever it is they're up to by now.
The Freak Olympics wouldn't overtake the proper Olympics; it would just supply a gasp-inducing and highly watchable alternative to the original version, complete with its own rich vein of sponsorship and broadcast rights dollars.
With the extra money - and it would be big money, let's not deny it - creamed off broadcast rights to the Freak Olympics, the IOC could afford to relax its now-customary mad avarice over the normal Olympics, and stop bullying regional radio stations foolish enough to broadcast the words ''London Olympics'' without first handing over wads of cash, or threatening to sue cafe owners who offer Olympic Onion Rings.
In my view, the Freak Olympics wouldn't need a live audience at all. It would be purely a television event, which means you could stage it in Antarctica during summer and make use of the 24-hour sunlight for perfect broadcast conditions and a time-zone we could all live with.
It would be cold, obviously, but the weirdo cyborgs actually competing would by that stage largely be running on Valvoline and antifreeze, or be covered in protective fur in the case of the otterpeople, so cold itself need not pose an insurmountable problem.
I think we've dealt with all the major issues, people. Time to get this thing off the ground. I'm off to grow a head-fin, just in case.