From Johnson to Munich, scandal and tragedy has marked Olympics

PARIS, June 13, 2008 (AFP) – Planning and staging an Olympics has never been an easy task and the chances are that Beijing 2008 will have its share of problems before it all ends for another four years. However it will have to go some way to surpass several previous Olympics.

From the humiliating spectacle of Canadian Ben Johnson being stripped of his 100m gold medal in the 1988 Games in Seoul after testing positive for anabolic steroids to the tragedy that engulfed the 1972 Games in Munich when 18 people were killed following a Palestinian terrorist attack on the Israeli team, the Olympic movement has had to rebuild the image of the Games.

On a purely sporting front, the Johnson scandal was the biggest public relations disaster – regardless of the fact that the IOC could protest that at least drug cheats couldn’t get away with it – as the winner of the ‘Blue Riband’ event of any Games was packed off back home.

The IOC’s protestations that they were fighting hard against drugs was not helped when the then head of athletics was captured on camera asking IOC President Juan Antonio Samaranch if there was any way Johnson could be spared – not for the sake of the athlete but for the sport. The a