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Olympics 2004: On Final Day, IOC Chairman Praises 'Superb' Olympic Games


http://gdb.rferl.org/9B204223-DF9A-4D02-8CC3-F27533006CCE_w203.jpg --> http://gdb.rferl.org/9B204223-DF9A-4D02-8CC3-F27533006CCE_mw800_mh600.jpg It's all over The events of the Athens Olympics have concluded with the men's marathon, won by Italian Stefano Baldini. The race traced what is considered the legendary route ran by Pheidippides in 490 B.C. to announce the Athenian military victory at the battle of Marathon. Ahead of the closing ceremonies at the main stadium, the head of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), Jacques Rogge praised organizers for putting on a successful Olympic games.

30 August 2004 -- Jacques Rogge said yesterday that Greece managed to organize a superb Olympic Games -- despite predictions by many just weeks before the 13 August opening that the construction of venues would not be completed on time.

Speaking at an Athens press conference yesterday, Rogge praised almost every aspect of the Athens games. He said the athletes' Olympic village in Athens was the best ever built, and that sporting federations were delighted with the efforts of the Greek organizers.

Rogge acknowledged problems with judging in several events -- including gymnastics, fencing, and taekwondo. He said human error is understandable, but also pledged that he would never accept manipulation of results.

Rogge also said that as of yesterday morning, there had been 22 positive drug tests in Athens -- double the number of violations found by testing at the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney, Australia -- and that the list would probably grow in the coming days. Many commentators have said that the increase in positive drug tests probably reflects better testing methods rather than increased use of performance enhancing drugs by some athletes. Rogge said the weight-lifting federation was particularly aggressive with testing.

"The international weight-lifting federation is at the forefront of fighting against doping. They spend not less than 35 percent of their budget against doping. That is a huge amount. And that is money they cannot spend on promotion and development of their sport. So I respect them very much for what they are doing. Do they have a problem? Of course they do. Is it a big problem? It is a very big problem for this sport. But I respect very much what the international federation is doing. We will continue to assist them and definitely we will try to find together with them the means to improve their fight," Rogge said.

Rogge told reporters that out of the 10,500 athletes participating in the Olympics, there are always likely to be some cheaters. As a warning to athletes in the future, he said thousands of samples from drug tests on those who competed in Athens will be stored in deep freeze and re-examined at a later date as anti-doping technology develops further.

Rogge also said the 2004 summer games marked the emergence of Asian countries as major Olympic powers. He predicted a full strength Asian challenge at the next summer games -- the 2008 games in Beijing.

The United States won the most medals, 35 golds and 103 overall. China had 32 golds and 63 overall, while Russia finished third with 27 golds and 92 overall.

Ukraine finished 12th with nine gold medals and 23 overall. Belarus, Iran, Georgia, and Uzbekistan each had two gold medals, while Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan each had one.

More stories about the Olympics from RFE/RL:

Athens Readies For Spectacular Opening Ceremony

Muslim Women Athletes Move Ahead, But Don't Leave Faith Behind

After Medal-Winning Glory, What Next For Former Soviet Athletes?

Despite Problems, Olympic Ideals Endure

Games Struggle For Spotlight, But Prestige Remains

For Some Athletes, Behind The Medals Lies Real Gold
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