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Competitiveness being put on trial in London

It has been a crazy past few days at the London Olympic Games, and the plethora of gold medals being handed out has little to do with all of the water cooler talk.

Instead, the 2012 Games, which bring together the top athletes from all over the world to decide who is the best in their given competitions, have been highlighted by scandal, match-throwing and accusations.

In just a few short days, we have already seen the opposite ends of the spectrum. In one corner sit eight disgraced badminton players -- yes, badminton -- kicked out of the games for attempting to manipulate the draw by losing matches on purpose.

Then on Thursday night, we began to hear some editorial rumblings about the United States maybe running up the score en route to setting a bevy of Olympic records in a rout of helpless Nigeria.

Hence, in the last 48 hours (or about a span of 10 hours of sleep for a typical Olympic writer), fans and officials have taken objection to both not enough and too much effort.

So far, appropriate action has been taken to the majority of the parties involved. The Badminton World Federation's quick expulsion of the four women's doubles teams -- including the top-seeded Chinese tandem of Wang Xiaoli and Yu Yang -- set a standard for what should happen if athletes don't give their all in the highest of all events that happens to take place only every four years.

Wang and Yu were accused of losing on purpose so that they wouldn't have to face another Chinese team, the second-seeded Tian Qing and Zhao Yunlei, until the gold medal final. Assuming both teams made it as expected, that would secure more medals for their country.

Hey, it's a tough economy. Sometimes just one gold medal isn't enough.

"If you ask me as a sportsman I think it is morally wrong. Once you are in the court, whether you like it or not, you should be out there to win," said Charoen Wattanasin, vice president of the National Olympic Committee of Thailand and president of the Badminton Federation of Thailand.

"Something had to be done. I feel sorry for what happened but believe the disciplinary committee made the right decision."

Once the discussion passes the point of badminton being an actual Olympic sport, one can begin to gauge just why something like this would occur. The key theme of the Olympic Games is performing at a top level for your country, building a goodwill of national pride.

Finishing in the top two spots in any event is the ultimate tool of construction, so it's not too difficult to see why such a plan would be hatched.

In fact, it probably happens more often than not, though Wang and Yu get the fail horn for being so obvious about it.

China's Lin Dan, the No. 2 seed of the men's singles tournament, offered a solution to the issue in his sport, calling for a straight knockout round instead of the current format.

"I am sure many teams are playing for their (own) benefit so they don't meet the really strong opponents in the knockout round," Lin said. "Ultimately the wrong is not on the side of the athlete."

That was the same case in Thursday night's basketball thrashing by the United States. Following the 156-73 win that saw Olympic records set for most points scored in a game, a half and by a single player (Carmelo Anthony's 37), coach Mike Krzyzewski was asked if the U.S. took steps to avoid humiliating its opponent.

Though probably unavoidable, it was a bit of a silly question given that Kobe Bryant, LeBron James and even Anthony all played fewer than 15 minutes.

The team leader in minutes played on Thursday? Kevin Love.

"The first thing we did was take LeBron and Kobe off in the second half and even with Carmelo shooting like that we benched him and we didn't take any fastbreaks," noted Krzyzewski. "We have to take a shot every 24 seconds and I take great offense to this question. The score is irrelevant to us, we play to win. There is no way in the world that we would set out to humiliate another team."

So there you have it. Anthony and company put a little too much effort into their win. Save something for the medal game, boys.

And what did the team that supposedly got embarrassed think?

"They didn't go out of their way to humiliate us. I didn't feel like that," said former NBA player and current Nigeria member Ike Diogu.

None of this even includes the two boxing referees who were disciplined -- one expelled from the games -- for some shady decisions or the reported comments by one of the members of Great Britain's track cycling gold medal team that he crashed on purpose to get a restart.

When the games began, they did so with the introduction of new partnerships and procedures to help reduce doping in games.

But with the lure of gold having already infected every athlete across the world, the scandals evolve and the Olympic Games may have brand-new issues on their hands.