ATHENS OLYMPICS: Doping casts shadow over games
25 August 2004 , ATHENS - The daily co-ordination meeting between Olympic organisers in Athens and the International Olympic Committee may have been scrapped again on Wednesday because the Games are running smoothly, but there is growing concern about the image of the Games. Judging and jury scandals in gymnastics and equestrian, as well as the doping issue - featuring prominently again on Wednesday - leading to 'wrong' medal ceremonies are not doing the Olympic image good. "Of course a shadow has been ca
25 August 2004
ATHENS - The daily co-ordination meeting between Olympic organisers in Athens and the International Olympic Committee may have been scrapped again on Wednesday because the Games are running smoothly, but there is growing concern about the image of the Games.
Judging and jury scandals in gymnastics and equestrian, as well as the doping issue - featuring prominently again on Wednesday - leading to 'wrong' medal ceremonies are not doing the Olympic image good.
"Of course a shadow has been cast over the Games. But as far as doping is concerned our sponsors have the same opinion on the issue as we do," said Norwegian IOC member Gerhard Heiberg.
Heiberg, who is the head of the IOC marketing commission, said that the IOC's zero tolerance stand against doping is in the interest of the IOC and its sponsors.
A group of 11 sponsors, ranging from Coca Cola to credit card company Visa, are dishing out USD 661 million (EUR 457 million) 2001-2004 and even USD 886 million 2005-2008 featuring the 2006 Winter Games in Turin and 2008 Summer Games in Beijing.
Thomas Bach, a German IOC vice-president, said one had to draw a clear line between doping cases and problems concerning judging.
"Every reported doping offence is a big success for the IOC. We don't adress the public, though, but rather the athlete, we have to give him the feeling that we are taking care of him with our measures. For that reason we are taking action against anyone and don't hold back," said Bach.
Although the issue has been prominent throughout the Games, IOC spokeswoman Giselle Davies warned not to blow the doping issue out of proportion.
"So far we have had seven positive tests and three violations of regulations. We had 11 positive tests at Sydney 2000. We wouldn't be surprised if we had more cases until the end of the Games (on Sunday)," Davies said.
The biggest headache for the IOC is the medal ceremony and the fear to have to rectify results later.
"Part of the fascination are the medal ceremonies immediately after the competition in which the true Olympic champions are crowned," said Bach.
Irini Kozhanenko was stripped of her shot put gold after the ceremony, triple jumper Francoise Mbango Etone is reportedly under suspicion as well, while the IOC was just spared from giving Hungary's discus throw Robert Fazekas his gold because his ceremony was the day after and his positive test known by then.
Other athletes have been denied gold medals by judging errors, such as in the men's gymnastics all-around event where three judges were suspended for giving South Korean athlete Yang Tae Young wrong start marks in the parallel bar which denied him gold.
The ruling body FIG acknowledged the mistake but said its rules didn't provide for an overturning of judges results.
The German three day event equestrian team had to hand back their gold medals after the Court of Arbitration in Sports ruled that the governing body's appeal court had no right to nullify a result of the event's jury.
"We will call on the federations to be even more thorough in their education of referees and judges. The federations must make their rules more precise. They must tell every official that they have to qualify for Olympic Games like the athletes," Bach said.
Dick Pound of Canada, an IOC member and head of the World Anti- Doping Agency, was more blunt.
"Athletes prepare for Olympic Games over many years. It is a catastrophe if they are denied the reward for their efforts by competition officials," Pound said.
Subject: German news