Saturday, May 22, 2004

New York got some bad news this week — it made the cut as one of the cities up for the 2012 Summer Olympics.

Those should be some interesting games. Residents who can pass a drug test will be recruited to compete because there will be no athletes left who haven’t been banned by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency. And any residents left after that will be asked to leave the city because the terrorist level for those games will be so high — and the costs to protect people at the Olympics will be about $2billion by then — that nobody other than competitors and the entire NATO force will be allowed within the five boroughs.

How would you like to write the International Olympic Committee’s insurance policy for those Games?

What’s a better bet? That New York gets the 2012 Games or that there are still Olympic Games by 2012?

Maybe it’s appropriate that the 2004 Games were awarded to Athens — the place where the Olympics began and the place where it very well may end.

With the Games just a few months away, the issues have grown far beyond not having facilities completed or the typical Olympic transportation mix-ups. This past week in Athens, police destroyed a small time bomb found about a half-mile from the stadium that will be the site for baseball, basketball and field hockey. It was the same kind of bomb that damaged an Athens police station May5, authorities said.

What kind of panic will there be if this happens in the middle of the Summer Games? It won’t have to be a bomb on or near the Olympic grounds for a calamity to erupt. It may only have to be a couple of cherry bombs in a bathroom at a McDonald’s to throw the entire Olympics into chaos, with people running for the airport in Athens (a notoriously safe place, right?) to get out of town.

Not that there will be many people coming to town in the first place — at least not the best and the brightest the Olympic movement claims it represents. The so-called basketball Dream Team may have to recruit some street players to field a squad as stars with legitimate security concerns pass on Athens. And some of America’s finest track and field athletes may be tied up answering questions in a San Francisco courtroom about the BALCO steroid scandal.

On Wednesday, sprinter Kelli White became the first athlete to be punished as a result of the BALCO investigation. She accepted a two-year drug ban after the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency showed her its evidence that she used undetectable steroids and an endurance-enhancing hormone.

If White was so quick to take such a stiff punishment and miss the Athens Games, then you know they had her nailed, and now she will help nail some of her Olympic teammates. And you know they soon will fall as well. The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency was given evidence earlier this month that a Senate committee obtained from the BALCO grand jury investigation, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. “They have the positive test results of these people,” a source told the newspaper, referring to several track athletes.

If one of them is Marion Jones, she has threatened to file suit to compete in Athens. Even if she wins, the damage from what likely would be revealed in such a court proceeding only would serve to further damage the Olympics, which already may be beyond repair anyway.

The drug scandals will damage the Games, but it will be the security issues that could doom them. Perhaps the only way to save the Olympics is to do away with this ridiculous shopping of the Games to cities around the world and settle on a permanent Olympic location, one that could be better controlled and secured.

How about Mars?

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