From toilet seats to Rachmaninoff - a cultural feast

Last updated 12:00 09/02/2013

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OPINION: Rarely do you see a half-naked man wriggle through a toilet seat in public.

But that is just one of the weird and wonderful sights on offer in central Nelson this weekend.

It's part of the enduring beauty of the Buskerburgoo festival -Nelson's busker and street theatre series - that you never know who or what you will stumble across.

Irishman Murray Molloy mixes fire, sword swallowing and gymnastics with that toilet seat.

Ernest the Magnifico's vehicle of choice is a flaming, high-flying stunt-car, with unexpected audience participation.

Jessica Arpin weaves a love story about her new homeland around acrobatics on her yellow bicycle.

The festival is another bright spot in the Nelson summer, injecting colour and fun.

It may be a little brother to the Christchurch World Buskers festival, but it still packs a punchline.

The buskers series is a complete contrast to the other big festival in the city over the past week.

The Adam Chamber Music Festival has drawn packed audiences who have been equally entranced by the cultured strains of string quartets and classical pianists.

Having such diverse attractions can only be good for our hearts, minds and funnybones. A question of sport The drama of sport sees a fair struggle for supremacy with an unpredictable outcome.

That foundation is now under threat after investigations this week that have uncovered cheating on a large scale.

First, European police identified 380 suspicious matches, including Champions League games and World Cup qualifiers, targeted by a Singapore-based betting cartel.

More shockingly, and much too close to home, the Australian Crime Commission has discovered widespread use of performance-enhancing drugs in the country's professional codes.

It found that organised crime networks have been involved in distributing drugs to sports scientists, doctors, coaches and support staff.

In some cases, the drugs have not yet been approved for human use.

Police are also investigating potential match-fixing in Australian sport, driven by Asian syndicates or organised crime.

The commission is not naming players and has not said if its concerns extend to New Zealand's professional teams in Australian competitions.

It's tempting to think our clubs and athletes would not stoop to such levels, but before the Australian report was released many would have said the same about their proud sporting pedigree.

Sport Minister Murray McCully is right to ask the Government's sporting agencies to see whether we need a similar inquiry.

An advantage of New Zealand's size is we lack the big money - and betting - in our domestic competitions, but there is no room for complacency. If any outstanding performance is now open to doubt, everyone loses.

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Australian sporting bodies have agreed to a crackdown on drugs and betting. It will have to be quick and thorough to remove the stain.

- The Nelson Mail

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