Olympic Diving + AIDS

16 Aug

Women’s Diving should be parodied:
-Brittany Violet’s coach = Weird in a way I have trouble articulating.  Creepy phrases, stilted hugs–I WISH I could find a video clip somewhere to show you.
-the commentator’s repeated “Entry needs work, entries are important, look at that huge splash!”
-the seemingly arbitrary bandage tape patterns

And who knew men’s diving was so GAY? As I’m watching, my gay-dar is tripping with almost every dude diver that steps onto the platform.

With my interest in history, the gays, and AIDS–how did I not know about Greg Louganis?

He was such a premiere diver that the Chinese filmed his form and used him as a model.  And look at the Chinese diving domination now–in part because of the emulation of Louganis’ form.  In the 1988 Olympics, he hit his head on the platform during a dive.  The doctor, gave him 5 stitches in his bleeding skull (without gloves).

According to the Wiki:

he suffered a concussion after hitting his head on the springboard during the preliminary rounds while performing a reverse 2½ pike. He completed the preliminaries despite his injury, earning the highest single score of the qualifying for his next dive, and went on to repeat the dive during the finals, earning the gold medal by a margin of 25 points.[1] In the 10m finals he won the gold medal performing a 3.4 difficulty dive in his last attempt, earning 86.70 points for a total of 638.61, surpassing silver medalist Xiong Ni by only 1.14 points.[1] His comeback earned him the title of ABC‘s Wide World of Sports “Athlete of the Year” for 1988.

As an interesting side-note:  Louganis had tried to bring Ryan Whate to the Olympics to share in the experience, but White’s visa was denied due to his (well known) HIV+ status.  The world didn’t know Louganis’ HIV+ status until he authored a full-disclosure book in 1994.  He says he found out a few months before the Seoul about his HIV positive status.

Most of his sponsors dropped him (except Speedo who retained him as a spokesmen for another 13 years) and he was roundly criticized for putting competitors at risk.

I think Sports Illustrated addresses the issue best:

Changes were instituted at all levels of sport to address these fears: Doctors and trainers now wear latex gloves when treating athletes; players who begin to bleed during a competition are immediately removed from the game and cannot return until the wound is cleaned and bandaged; and all blood is treated as potentially contaminated blood. These are prudent and sensible measures.

And despite the concerns expressed following Louganis’s revelations, there’s no evidence that additional precautions are needed. The likelihood of one athlete’s spreading the AIDS virus to another athlete during competition is so remote as to be infinitesimal. In fact, only one athlete, a recreational soccer player in Italy, is even suspected of having been infected with HIV during a match (he knocked heads with another player who turned out to be HIV-positive). But even that case was disputed because doctors couldn’t rule out other risk factors.

The IOC was correct last week in restating its position not to require athletes to undergo a blood test for HIV. Olympic athletes who have tested positive will continue to be allowed to compete, provided they have their physician’s approval that they are healthy enough to do so. Louganis was under no obligation to divulge his condition in 1988, nor were there public health reasons for him to have revealed it.

So let’s return the locus on Louganis to where it should be. He was unparalleled as an athlete. He carried himself with grace and dignity his entire competitive career. He was, and is, beloved by the American public. He developed AIDS, not because he was an athlete, not because he was homosexual, but because he didn’t practice safe sex. 

Further, the Wiki explains:

But his blood in the pool actually posed about zero risk. The blood was diluted by thousands of gallons of water, and “chlorine kills HIV”, said Dr. John Ward, chief of HIV-AIDS surveillance at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Also, skin is a very effective barrier to HIV. Only a diver with an open wound would face any risk. “If the virus just touches the skin, it is unheard of for it to cause infection: the skin has no receptors to bind HIV,” explained Dr. Anthony Fauci.[2]

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