Jon Day

Jon Day’s Novel Sensations: Modernist Fiction and the Problem of Qualia is out now.

Grigory Rodchenkov’s first-hand knowledge of doping made him relatively unusual in the world of anti-doping – he often already possessed personal samples of some of the rarer drugs his lab wanted to detect, which were then used to calibrate their machinery. At first he worked directly for the state. To cover for positive tests, dirty samples would be made to disappear or left in such a way that they spoiled. Some were swapped with clean samples provided by coaches, friends or relatives of the athletes. So much doping went on that ‘in some training camps, finding clean urine was a problem ... The coaches were drinking gallons of water and emptying their bladders into their athlete’s sample bottles.’ To make the clean samples match the colour of the dirty ones, Rodchenkov and his colleagues added Nescafé granules. His grandest project – the one which eventually did for him – took place during the 2014 Sochi winter games, the first Olympics to be held on Russian soil since Moscow in 1980. Sochi was to be the ‘glittering jewel’ in Putin’s crown and Rodchenkov was under pressure to produce winners.

Better on TV: The Tennis Craze

Jon Day, 8 October 2020

You​ can divide most sports into those that take place in the real world (road cycling, sailing, cross country running) and those that are played on the artificial space of a court or pitch. Some (golf, croquet) occupy an uncertain middle ground, which may be one of the reasons they are so tedious to watch. Others (football, rugby) started as the former and, as they were codified, became...

Since​ 1961 more people have gone into space than have raced in Formula 1 Grand Prix. This doesn’t mean that it’s harder to become an F1 driver than an astronaut. But motorsport is incredibly expensive and the pool from which drivers are drawn is tiny. A modern F1 car costs around £10 million to manufacture. The most successful teams spend, on average, £220 million a...

Themind, according to Henri Bergson, is like a ‘single sentence that was begun at the first awakening of consciousness, a sentence strewn with commas but in no place cut by a period’. William James preferred the image of a stream: consciousness, he wrote, ‘does not appear to itself chopped up in bits. Such words as “chain” or “train” do not...

There are​ 290 species of pigeon in the world, but only one has adapted to live in cities. Feral pigeons are synanthropes: they thrive in human environments where they can skim a living off our excess, nesting in the nooks and crannies of tall buildings that mimic the cliff faces on which their genetic ancestors – Columba livia, the rock dove – once lived. We think of pigeons as...

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