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Aussies expect drug-tainted Beijing Olympics

July 28, 2008 14:35 IST

A majority of athletes in Australia's [Images] largest ever Olympic [Images] team believe the Beijing [Images] Games will be tainted by drug scandals, with nearly a fifth believing an Australian could be among the cheats, a poll showed on Monday.

Three-in-four of those surveyed, including high profile swimming captain and two-time gold medal winner Grant Hackett, believed athletes in Beijing would be using performance enhancing drugs, the poll in the Herald Sun newspaper showed.

"We would have our heads in the sand to think the Games will be clean, and that gets my blood boiling more than anything else in sport," Hackett told the paper before leaving.

Hackett, 28, will be aiming to win the 1,500 metre freestyle event at his third successive Games in an Australia swimming team counting six world record holders.

International Olympic Committee President Jacques Rogge at the weekend told Europe's De Standaard newspaper that as many as 40 Olympians are likely to test positive for banned substances during the Beijing Games, up from 26 at Athens in 2004.

"Based on the number of doping tests in Beijing, you can expect 30 to 40 positive cases," Rogge said, pointing to better drug analysis to be deployed in Beijing, including 4,500 drug tests planned by Games officials.

The survey of 100 athletes from Australia's 433-strong team found an overwhelming 76 percent believed drug cheats would be competing in Beijing, while just six said this year's Games would be clean.

Asked if Australians would be among the cheats, 17 said yes, 73 said no and 10 said they had no answer.

Australia's Olympic team finished fourth in the medals table in Athens, with 17 golds among a total haul of 49, behind the United States, China and Russia [Images].

Australia is anticipating another top-five medal finish in Beijing, despite its relatively small 21 million population.

But Australian Olympic Committee President John Coates predicts the team will be edged out of the fourth place it achieved in Athens and Sydney in 2000 by the resurgent Germans.

The swimming team, which will vie for pool honours with arch-rivals the United States, flew out for pre-Olympic camp in the Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur on Sunday.

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