Hogy vagy?

Hungary’s former sports minister is now prime minister. Should this sort of thing worry anyone?

Three Hungarians have forfeited medals in Athens because of doping – [hammer throw champion Adrian] Annus, discus gold medalist Robert Fazekas and weightlifter Ferenc Gyurkovics, who won a silver.

Also, Hungarian weightlifter Zoltan Kovacs finished last in the 105-kilogram class and was banished from the games for failing to provide a urine sample.

Just wondering.

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About Doug Merrill

Freelance journalist based in Tbilisi, following stints in Atlanta, Budapest, Munich, Warsaw and Washington. Worked for a German think tank, discovered it was incompatible with repaying US student loans. Spent two years in financial markets. Bicycled from Vilnius to Tallinn. Climbed highest mountains in two Alpine countries (the easy ones, though). American center-left, with strong yellow dog tendencies. Arrived in the Caucasus two weeks before its latest war.

3 thoughts on “Hogy vagy?

  1. I’d be more worried about the very existence of a “sports minister”, but that’s just reactionary ol’ American me speaking. I get pissed when cities put public funding into sports stadiums, me.

  2. Well, it is hardly a case of a GDR-style state-run
    doping program, if that’s what you were out for. The man immediately below ex-sports-minister Gyurcs?ny in the line of responsibility is P?l Schmitt head of the Hungarian Olympics Committee, who happens to also be a top politician of the right-wing opposition – and their cooperation is limited by the fact that the two sides in Hungary are even more hostile than those in the USA. (And the position of yours truly is even more hopeless than that of Naderites in the USA.)

    There isn’t really one big Hungarian doping scandal, but two separate cases – the rather clear-cut case of oxandrolon-using weightlifters, and the murky case of stripped gold medal winners Fazekas and Annus, who are friends and training partners in the same city, and who had no positive doping probe but stopped cooperation at some point.

    The case is murky because while the pair acted
    suspiciously, the doping controllers also seem to be bending over backwards to prove their case, to the point of untruths – like the WADA head contradicting the official report on Fazekas claiming a fake urine sample-delivering device was found, or concluding from the differing testosterone level of Annus’s two samples that they are from two people, altough testosterone levels change in people.

    Of course, all five atheletes claim innocence, and why should anyone believe them, but the latter two might still be idiot hillbillies (which they seem to me on TV anyway) acting foolish when caught up in too obsessive investigations kicked off by an anonymous defamer, rather than clever manipulators – a DNA test of Annus’s two samples announced by WADA and a testing of the 25 ml Fazekas did give (enough for one test) might see to it.

    Back to politics, even without Schmitt’s clear
    position as a saboteur for the Right, I think he and the non-politicals below him are much more to blame than Gyurcs?ny: for, the team had internal doping controls, that they didn’t work, is more the case of faulty implementation by those who know the specifics, than of a bad policy by those who have to know the general principles.

  3. On the other hand… a little background on Gyurcs?ny and how he became PM, if anyone cares.

    Gyurcs?ny was in the Party youth organisation. In 1990, like many in the Party cadre, he became a businessman in the mids of a not-too-correct privatisation. He built a fortune (15 million euros), and stayed out of politics until his friend Medgyessy became PM when the Socialists [post-communists, in views & manners closer to European centre-right] won in 2002. Gyurcs?ny was first adviser, then Medgyessy wanted him in an important ministry, but in the power struggle with ambitious party rivals he only could get him into the sports ministry.

    Later the two became estranged, while party rivals, a relentless opposition and an impatient coalition partner [Free Democrats, born of the eighties underground opposition, now largely an empty shell] proved too much to him. Then there were two candidates, Gyurcs?ny and a bureaucrat-type whom none of the party bigshots deemed dangerous to their own later ambitions. The party leadership voted 8:0 to recommend the latter, but delegates rebelled and chose Gyurcs?ny 453:166.

    However, the delegates’ primary reason seems to be the belief that Gyurcs?ny is the only one in the party who can match rhetorically the demagogue right-wing leader, Orb?n (someone who changed from a near-anarchist anti-establishment rebel into a young reactionary who built a clienture and woos the far right, in less than a decade). Tough Gyurcs?ny’s speeches prove that he is the only prominent Socialist who noticed that in terms of role models for party modernisation, New Labour is not the end of the story; I have absolutely no clue what policies he’ll follow once the 30-day interregnum ends. From what I know, he might be anything, another Tony Bliar, or another Zapatero, or a Socialist Orb?n.

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