Is gold medal worship the root cause of corruption in the field of competitive sports or the other way round?
This seems to be a question of chicken and eggs. But there is no denying that corruption is often behind sports scandals related to winning gold medals by cutting corners.
Nowadays, a gold medal has a lot to do with money, not just for the winners but also for their coaches and the teams behind them.
For a local sports team, the more gold medals its members win, the more money it will get from the local coffers to train athletes.
And the more gold medals that are won, the more money the medalists, their coaches and their team members will receive.
For leaders of sports teams and the officials in charge of sports management, it has become a question of how they look at gold medals, whether they consider them as a source of money or as a symbol of honor.
In one case, an official in charge of selecting referees for a kickboxing competition during the 11th National Sports Games in 2009 received bribes from sports officials from a province so the kickboxers from that province would win two gold medals.
The official has been indicted.
Several officials have also been sentenced to different terms of imprisonment for their involvement in fixing soccer matches and gambling on soccer matches.
Authorities of the General Administration of Sport of China said that they would reflect on how blind worship of gold medals has distorted sportsmanship.
The administration has canceled the selection of winners for contribution awards in the Asian and Olympic Games; it has also decided not to publish the provincial gold medal rankings in national competitions.
Blind worship of gold medals for the rewards they bring has distorted sportsmanship and will do so further.
It is natural for spotsmen and women to want to be the best.
For an athlete and his or her coaches, there is nothing wrong in craving a gold medal, unless illegal or unethical means are exploited to win it.
For the sports authorities, what is more important than reflection is the making of strict rules to prohibit the manipulation of competitions and inflict severe penalties on those who trade gold medals and competition results for money.
Sportsmanship can only survive in a clean environment, where medals are won through ability.