Perhaps the most far-reaching solution has been proposed by a member of the IOC itself, Albert Mayer, the Swiss representative, who is also the mayor of the little town of Montreux on Lake Geneva. Sitting in the jewelry shop which he also runs, the ex-bobsled racer outlined his scheme to me. Mayer candidly acknowledges that the Soviets are overlooking the Olympic rules while the West is clandestinely violating them. From a folder on his desk he brought out clippings reporting gifts presented to Squaw Valley Olympic winners by their grateful townsmen. One gift was a gold chain. Another was a stock of photographic equipment for a winner's mother's camera shop. The third was a sum of money and a promise by the community to permit a winner to acquire a plot of land for a filling station. All of these, Mayer points out, are flagrant violations of the Olympic rules. "But who," he asks, "is going to do anything about it?"
Mayer further supports the need for a change by listing a dozen blatant cases of professionalism in the Olympic Games going as far back as 1896. Nor is Mayer disturbed by those who evoke the memory of Baron de Coubertin in support of simon-pure amateurs: he is ready with a quotation from the founder's memoirs. Though De Coubertin confessed that sport had been a religion for him, he also maintained that it was as infantile to declare a sportsman a professional for having accepted money as it would be to declare a sexton an infidel for receiving a salary to take care of a church.
Mayer's proposal is simplicity itself: since it is impossible to define an amateur, he says, define a professional and declare all others amateurs. His irreducible definition of a professional is one who "earns a living essentially by practicing sports." This he would substitute for Olympic Rule 26 and all its ramifications.
Though Mayer admits that the solution is a radical departure from the traditional code of amateurism, he points out that the world has changed greatly since the modern Olympics were founded. His solution, Mayer argues, would dispose of the double standard between East and West, since it would recognize Soviet state amateurs as nonprofessionals. It would eliminate the dishonesty and hypocrisy now so prevalent in Western countries. It would do away with the necessity for hairsplitting decisions by the IOC. But the most important aspect of the proposal is that, although it would mean the end of our traditional code of amateurism, there is no reason to believe that it would do anything but further the amateur ideals of sportsmanship, fair play and excellence for its own sake.
Mayer's proposal is no cure-all. How, for example, is one to determine just what is a given athlete's essential source of income? However, it has the merit of simplicity; it finds common ground between Soviet and Western practices—the Soviets have already endorsed it as "very progressive"—and to a considerable degree removes the worst evil of amateur athletics today: the hypocrisy which seems unavoidable under the present system.
The proposal will not, in all probability, be argued at the present session of the IOC but will be referred to a study group for examination which should report to the next meeting of the full International Committee, probably in Athens in the spring of 1961.
Unless the IOC can find a better solution to these problems before the next Olympics, it would do well to examine seriously the advice of the mayor of Montreux.