OCTOBER 9, 2000 VOL. 156 NO. 14
Either more athletes are doping up or officials are getting better at catching the cheats. Before the Games even started, 27 Chinese athletessome 10% of the country's Olympic squadwere booted off the team for suspected drug abuse. The Games themselves have seen a record-breaking 36 drug busts including the sad case of Andrea Raducan, the diminutive Romanian gymnast stripped of gold for testing positive for a banned substance found in many over-the-counter cold medicines. Raducan says the team doctor prescribed the medicine to alleviate cold symptoms. A plausible excuse, but she was penalized anyway. Other intriguing explanantions:
Uzbekistan athletics coach Sergei Voynov was caught trying to smuggle 15 vials of human growth hormone through the Sydney airport. He said the drugs were meant to treat his baldness.
Latvian rower Andris Reinholds was expelled after urine tests showed four times the permitted level of the steroid nandrolone. His delegation said it was due to a Chinese herbal remedy made in the U.S.
German runner Dieter Baumann, who tested positive for steroids, insisted someone must have spiked his toothpaste.
C.J. Hunter, Marion Jones' shot-putting husband, claimed that high levels of a banned steroid in his blood were caused by a contaminated iron supplement, an explanation described as "impossible" by I.O.C. vice president Jacques Rogge.
TIME's arbitrary selection of the top 10 performances:
1 British rower Steven Redgrave takes fifth gold medal in as many Games
2 Aboriginal sprinter Cathy Freeman wins the 400 mand the hearts of all Australians
3 Naoko Takahashi smashes marathon mark, becoming first-ever Japanese to win the event
4 Sydney Organizing Committee nets come-from-behind victory in staging what one I.O.C. official calls the "Games from central casting"
5 Late sprint by Ethiopian legend Haile Gebreselassie earns gold in men's 10,000 m
6 Stadium Australia manages to fit all 112,524 fans who came to see Freeman win
7 Back from retirement, China's Fu Mingxia takes her fourth gold in Olympic diving
8 Australian swimmers' win in the 4 x 100 m men's freestyle relay ends America's long dominance
9 Marion Jones said she'd win five golds, but three and two bronzes isn't peanuts
10 Despite a broken bone in her foot, Laura Wilkinson of the U.S. wins surprise gold in 10-m platform diving
Brazilian fans were outraged when two of the country's female Olympic stars had their gender questioned at the Sydney Games. Judo competitor Edinanci Silva and volleyballer Erika Coimbra were both born hermaphrodites, with non-functioning male genitalia that were surgically removed. Both women passed mouth-swab tests in Sydney that confirmed they are female. But some folks were not convinced: even though Silva finished only seventh in the women's 70-78 kg division, sour grapes among those she had booted out of the competition suggested that many thought they had been beaten by one of the boys from Brazil.
On the Block
Beijing, Osaka and Paris are just getting ready to make their pitches for the 2008 Olympics. But the more spirited bidding kicked off last week with a used shoe. When American Maurice Greene, the tongue-wagging 100-m champ, chucked his winning sneaker into the stands, he threw an estimated $100,000 into the hands of Wagga Wagga (that's a place, really) apprentice jeweler Ben Harper. Harper says he won't sell the shoe: "I'm going to keep it forever, it's the memento of a lifetime."
Some athletes are putting their Olympic memories on the block for a children's charity. Aussie water polo player Yvette Higgins is auctioning off her swimsuit, which was almost ripped to shreds during a particularly rambunctious bout. Equatorial Guinea's Eric Moussambani, the Games' newest and slowest swimmer (his 100-m time came in at nearly one minute behind the world record) donated a cool $2,551 that he reaped for his goggles. Just goes to show that even at the Olympics, everyone has a second chance to win big.
The Long March
In every race of every Olympics someone has to come in last. The swiftest get plenty of recognition, so it's time to acknowledge the slowest. At this Olympiad the laurels go to Britain's Chris Maddocks. This was the 43-year-old veterinary assistant's fifth Olympics, and he took his time. Hobbled by pain in his hamstrings, Maddocks finished the 50 km walk in 4 hr., 52 min., more than an hour behind the winner and almost 30 minutes behind his nearest competitor. But he tortoise all a lesson.
The buzz around Sydney during the closing days of the Olympics was that the Games had been such good funto saying nothing of being an overwhelming organizational and financial successthat Sydney ought to stage them again in 2004. Amid such chatter, the International Olympic Committee has publicly criticized Athens, host-designate for 2004, for falling seriously behind in its preparation. But there isn't likely to be a change in venue. "We are not considering dropping Athens," says Jacques Rogge, the I.O.C. member in charge of keeping the city on task. "I know that this idea is circulating in the press, but never, never, never has the [I.O.C.] executive board even discussed this possibility. Athens won the Games and is capable of holding them." Besides, at the closing ceremony in Sydney, the official Olympic flag was presented to the mayor of Athens, who is taking it home to lock up in City Hall until Aug. 13, 2004, when the Games begin again.
Written by Hannah Beech, Barry Hillenbrand, Kate Noble, Chris Redman, Belinda Luscombe and Susanna Schrobsdorff/Sydney
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