As the Greeks recover from last night's Olympics closing ceremony, many German papers on Monday morning commented that drug scandals cast a shadow over these Summer Games.
"The Athens 2004 Olympic Games will go down in the history books for the record number of doping scandals," wrote the Handelsblatt from Düsseldorf. It's a bitter setback after the glowing accolades of Sydney 2000. The long overdue campaign by the Olympic family against drug taking has resulted in tainting the image of the games. The paper doubted the damage will be repaired by an International Olympic Committee advertising campaign featuring Kofi Annan and Nelson Mandela who call for the Olympic ideal of fair play.
The Offenbach Post noted the number of world records set at these Olympics was much lower than in previous games. The message emanating from these games is that those athletes who use performance enhancing drugs no longer have a lobby in the international sporting arena. While the new IOC chief Jacques Rogge can't win the fight against doping, he is at least trying to give the clean athletes a fair chance, the paper concluded.
"The Olympic peak sports are facing a credibility crisis after Athens," the Lausitzer Rundschau from Cottbus opined. By striving for gold and money, the athletes, along with trainers, managers and organizations, continue to turn to banned substances. Never before, the daily pointed out, have so many athletes been caught for cheating or attempted cheating. This is a small but important success in terms of fair competition. However, in the future, the viewing public will have to get used to victories being determined not on the track but in the laboratories after the examination of the urine samples, the paper warned.
"If we want more bums on seats at the sporting stadiums and halls," began the Nürnberger Zeitung, "Then the international anti-doping fight has to be more consequently carried out." Because, as the paper remarked, the trust of the public in the athletes has suffered dramatically after the 23 drug scandals in Athens. "Is it any wonder that the viewing numbers were down in light of this cynicism and skepticism?" the paper asked.
The Leipziger Volkszeitung said if the Olympic Games want to maintain their significance then they need to overcome the problem of drugs. Not in the ideal expectation that no athlete will ever attempt to use performance enhancing drugs, but by implementing a system worldwide whereby it's impossible to attend the Olympics without having undertaking vigorous tests beforehand.
The Berliner Zeitung criticized a lack of flair at the Athens games. The paper argued these summer games were managed not celebrated, with the Greek onlookers only interested in their own athletes. Deliberately holding up the start of the men's 200-meter final in protest against the doping allegations against the Greek sprinting star Kostas Kenteris was clear snub against the rest of the world that doubted the Greeks would pull the games off at all, the Berliner Zeitung maintained.
The Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung reflected that the 2004 Olympic Games crossed an important threshold into a new more realistic era. As the paper observed, much has changed in the four years since Sydney and the greatest accomplishment of the Greek organizing committee was to ensure 24-hour security at all events in an effort to hinder terrorist attacks. "That the Olympic Games lost some of their easy atmosphere behind the shadow of fences, controls and barriers is not a high price to pay," the daily added.
Another paper from Düsseldorf, the Rheinische Post, wrote that Greece passed the Olympic test. "The world champions at improvisation have hosted a logistically near perfect summer games and have proved that even small nations can carry such a massive burden," the paper wrote, before calling the Greeks friendly and attentive hosts.