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A world awaits.

The Greeks put on a fantastic show last night as the Athens Olympics opened.

Fire, water, music, vast cheering crowds, and performing artists who harked back to those great Greek athletes of classic times. The ones who had never heard of anabolic steroids and peptide hormones.

Never before has a Games opened in such an atmosphere of suspicion, cynicism and dread. The scourge of drugs-based cheating now appears so rife, it seems certain to cast a shadow over the whole event.

Indeed, it has already done so with the missed drugs test of Greek stars Kostas Kenteris and Katerina Thanou. Kenteris, the 200 metres champion at Sydney four years ago, had been due to carry the flame to the ceremony. It is a rich irony indeed that instead he faces a fight for his credibility and his future.

Maybe that will be the end of it and there will be no more drugs stories in these Games. But let's not be silly.

Maybe matters will go another way. Maybe many dozens of drugs cheats will be caught and the Athens Games will be ruined. In those circumstances we can only hope it convinces the cheats that the authorities are too wise to their tricks now and helps to clean up sport for good.

Sport and the Olympic ideal stand on a knife edge this morning. The Games could deal a death knell to that ideal. Or it could be a brave new start. Which is it to be, Athens?
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Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Date:Aug 14, 2004
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