The Athens Olympic Games look set to break the dubious record of the number of athletes testing positive for banned substances. Although the International Olympic Committee warned before the games that it would be carrying out more stringent tests than ever before, the increasing revelations of positive drugs tests severely tarnishes the reputation of the games, which is supposed to be the ultimate showcase for human sporting ability.
Irina Korzhanenko of Russia, who won the first athletics gold medal of the tournament for the women's shot-put, was stripped of her gold medal after testing positive for stanozolol. Another shot-putter, Uzbekistan's Olga Shchukina, had already failed a drugs tests following last week's competition.
The worst affected sport has been weightlifting, despite the fact that the International Weightlifting Federation tested all 260 entrants for the Olympics before the competition began in an effort to avoid the scandal that marred the Sydney 2000 Games, when three Bulgarians failed tests. Greece's Leonidas Sampanis was stripped of his bronze medal and kicked out of the Games after confirmation of his failed drug test.
A further nine weightlifters, two Greek baseball players, a Kenyan boxer, a high jumper and a discus thrower have also failed drug tests since the IOC began its drug sweep on July 30. In all, a record 16 partcipants have been expelled so far.
IOC President Jacques Rogge declared a zero tolerance policy to drug cheats before the Games and the 2004 Olympics has seen a marked increase in the number of antidoping controls. But the list of shamed athletes will surely grow before the Games come to an end.