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A QUESTION OF THE SOUL
Charles W. Thayer
August 15, 1960
On the eve of the 1960 Games, the survival of the Olympic movement hangs on an issue which has defied definition—amateurism. Out of the welter of conflicting arguments among men and nations a well-known author, diplomat and sportsman draws on his years in the Western and Soviet worlds to clarify the issue and discusses possible solutions
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August 15, 1960

A Question Of The Soul

On the eve of the 1960 Games, the survival of the Olympic movement hangs on an issue which has defied definition—amateurism. Out of the welter of conflicting arguments among men and nations a well-known author, diplomat and sportsman draws on his years in the Western and Soviet worlds to clarify the issue and discusses possible solutions

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Take the sad story of Edik Streltsov, the star center forward of the Soviet Olympic soccer team who generally played for the Torpedo sports club attached to the Likhachev auto works in Moscow. Two years ago Streltsov landed in court charged with rape, induced, the prosecutor said, by the regal way he was kept by the Torpedo club. Asked by the judge where he worked, Streltsov answered: "At the Likhachev plant."

"And what do you do there?" the judge asked.

"I play soccer," he answered nonchalantly.

In addition to a handsome salary and frequent bonuses, Streltsov also had an apartment for himself, his wife and child.

"Is it customary for ordinary workers to get an apartment like that?" a newspaper reporter asked the factory management.

"Streltsov is no ordinary worker," was the reply. "He is a personality." Komsomolskaya Pravda, the Communist youth organ which revealed the story, also reported that whenever he was chided for drunken behavior, Streltsov threatened to quit the Torpedo club and join up with the rival Dynamo team.

His status as a personality notwithstanding, Streltsov was given 12 years hard labor.

Streltsov's story is by no means unique. Only a few months ago Komsomolskaya Pravda wrote about a gymnast, Dmitri Leonkin, who was a medalist at the Helsinki Games. Leonkin had started his athletic career, the newspaper said, as a modest, hard-working boy, but success had soon gone to his head. He insisted on the exclusive use of a gymnasium when he trained. He demanded that the government provide transportation for his family when he traveled to tournaments. When he won, he complained that the painted scrolls he was awarded had no cash value and added sourly that he was not a collector of pretty pictures.

THE SPORTING LIFE

To appease Leonkin, the sports authorities gave him an apartment in the heart of Moscow and enrolled him in the Senior Trainers' Institute, where he trained in the mornings and loafed the rest of the day. When asked to coach a team of youngsters, he refused, saying it bored him. Apparently loafing also bored him, for in the words of Komsomolskaya Pravda he, like Streltsov, took to "drinking and debauchery," and in the end he wound up in court charged with rolling a fellow drunk.

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