Sydney hosts the steroid Games
A top Australian newspaper said on Thursday that the Sydney Games are in danger of being remembered as the drugs Olympics after more scandals rocked what is supposed to be the greatest show on earth.
Prominent International Olympic Committee (IOC) member Prince Albert of Monaco weighed in by saying the drug busts could cast shadows over great performances by "clean" athletes.
The Games, now going into their 13th day, have been dogged by drugs controversies with five athletes testing positive, including four who have been stripped of their medals. Two athletes who won gold on Wednesday had served doping suspensions.
The Australian newspaper splashed the headline "Drugs cheats sour Games" across its front page.
"The Sydney Games are in danger of becoming remembered as the drugs Olympics as three more athletes were caught up in doping scandals yesterday...with predictions of more to come," it said.
Prince Albert was quoted by the newspaper as saying: "It is a bad thing for these Games, but it is a good thing that we catch these people."
He expressed confidence in the IOC's anti-drugs campaign but warned that the scandals could take some of the gloss off performances by clean athletes.
"You are so willing to be enthused by these great performances, and I am the first to jump up and applaud," he said.
"But at the back of your head you think: 'Maybe he has taken something', so that kind of tarnishes the overall enjoyment."
On Wednesday, the Olympics anti-drugs chief Jacques Rogge accused shot putter C.J. Hunter, husband of gold medallist Marion Jones, of providing a "cheap excuse" for a test showing 1,000 times more than the permitted level of a performance-enhancing steroid.
The White House anti-drug chief Barry MaCaffrey called for U.S. sports authorities to name and shame drugs cheats.
But Craig Masback, head of USA Track and Field, refused.
Scandal even swirled around Stadium Australia itself.
Officials escorted world champion hammer thrower Mihaela Melinte of Romania off the track because she had tested positive for the banned steroid nandrolone earlier in Italy.
Tiny Romanian gymnast Andreea Raducan will learn on Thursday whether her appeal against a drugs bust will succeed.
The IOC stripped her of her gold medal after she tested positive for a drug she said was contained in an over-the-counter medicine she had taken for a cold.
But the biggest headline-grabber has been Hunter. IOC officials said he had tested positive four times this year for nandrolone.
Hunter, who pulled out of the Games before they began citing a knee injury, wept at a news conference on Tuesday and swore to clear his name.
Rogge said Hunter's nandrolone levels were so high they could not be explained away by the food supplements Hunter said he had taken.
Hunter, whose case is being considered by the U.S. national athletics body, faces a battle to avoid a two-year suspension.
Commentators have accused the United States of hypocrisy for failing to disclose positive testings while calling for "clean" athletics.
McCaffrey wrote to Masback urging the athletics' boss to "immediately make public the full accounting of results management for the tests in question".
Masback wrote back that U.S. law, the U.S. Olympic Committee, and his own organisation's rules required athletes to be treated as innocent until proven guilty.
He said most cases still in process involved substances for which athletes had medical waivers, such as asthma medication.
Mail your comments