LOVERRO: In many ways, Sochi is the perfect Olympics host city

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The general school of thought is that Afghanistan helped bleed the Soviet Union dry and drove the economic crisis that led to breakup of the Cold War power. But hosting the 1980 Summer Olympics on Moscow may have contributed as well.

According to the Moscow Times, the costs of those 1980 Games – boycotted by the United States and 60 other countries – was 2 billion rubles, which was a little more than $1 billion. In 1984, Los Angeles hosted the Olympics for $75 million.

Soviet rulers feared the damage hosting the games would leave behind. In 1975, Leonid Brezhnev wrote a letter to his successor, Konstantin Chernenko, about the “enormous amount of money” to be spent hosting the Olympics, the Times reported.

“Besides the enormous cost, there may be all sorts of scandals that could disgrace the Soviet Union. Maybe we should reconsider this issue and refuse to hold the Olympics,” Brezhnev wrote to Chernenko, according to the Times report. The Olympics did help put the Soviet economy into a tailspin.

Scandals? Disgrace? That’s what the Olympics are built on.

The big rainmaker who helped Sochi secure the games is reportedly a Russian crime boss who is one of the biggest heroin dealers in the world, according to ABC News.

Gafur Rakhimov, who U.S. authorities describe as a top organized crime boss and heroin kingpin currently under criminal indictment in Uzbekistan, was a key figure in helping Sochi win the bid, ABC News reported. After Sochi was named the winning city in 2007, the head of the Russian Olympic Committee publicly thanked Rakhimov for his “singled minded work” in getting the votes of some Asian countries, “without which… it would have been hard for Sochi to count on the victory,” ABC New reported.

Rakhimov was barred from entering Australia for the 2000 Sydney Olympics, ABC News reported.

So here we are, 34 years after the last Soviet Olympics helped bring down the country, and the Russians are hosting games that started with a $12 billion budget that has reportedly risen to $51 billion. The Beijing Summer Olympics – a far bigger and costlier event to host – cost $43 billion.

Stray dogs? If I was a dog with a home, I’d be plenty worried. Dog food may be a hot commodity in Sochi in the future.

• Thom Loverro is co-host of “The Sports Fix,” noon to 2 p.m. daily on ESPN 980 radio and espn980.com

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