Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Games Faces Biggest Crisis in 16 Years

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Games Faces Biggest Crisis in 16 Years

Article excerpt


JACQUES ROGGE was feeling relaxed when he returned to the Hilton Hotel last night after a reception of sports leaders from his native Belgium.

After having had to nag the Greeks for seven years to speed up their preparations for the Games, the International Olympic Committee president had good reason to feel relieved that Athens was looking in good shape ahead of tonight's opening ceremony.

But before heading off to bed, he climbed the stairs beside the lobby lift to his office on the first floor to touch base with his Chief of Staff Christophe de Kepper.

As soon as Rogge walked into the room, he realised he had a major problem on his hands.

In the next few hours, the Athens Games would experience a dramatic night which would finish with two of Greece's biggest sports stars in hospital - bruised after a motorcycle accident and embroiled in the biggest Olympic drugs scandal since Ben Johnson's positive test at the 1988 Olympics.

The IOC's medical director Dr Patrick Schamasch - looking pale and sweating - was sitting at the round conference table with de Kepper, director-general Urs Lacotte, and two IOC lawyers.

De Keeper informed the IOC President straight away that Greek Olympic 200 metres champion Kostas Kenteris and fellow sprinter Katerina Thanou, the Olympic 100m women's silver medallist, had failed to appear for drugs tests at the Olympic village earlier in the day - an offence regarded as serious as a positive test for a banned substance.

The six men studied the anti-doping rules and discussed whether the IOC were on sound legal ground before Rogge decided to set up a disciplinary commission to discuss the case.

However, they now realised there may be a delay because both sprinters were in hospital.

Rogge's meeting was said to have been calm and relaxed and there was certainly no sense of panic. …

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