Discoveries of drug cheating by some of Kazakhstan’s sporting heroes have injected a dispiriting note into preparations for the upcoming Olympics Games in Rio de Janeiro.
The euphoria inspired by the record medal haul of the 2012 London Games is long gone and expectations for these Games are modest. Disappointment for Kazakhstan would be doubly crushing, as success in sport is intended not just to foster patriotism, but is also a core part of the state project to boost the nation's standing overseas. The country recently made a strong bid for Almaty to host the 2022 Winter Olympics, only to lose out in a narrow vote to Beijing.
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Paul Bartlett is an Almaty-based freelance writer.