A chance for catharsis

The recent regrettable, but not isolated, case of doping among our Olympic athletes should act as another call for a catharsis in order to regain the international athletic community’s trust in Greek athletes and our young potential champions’ faith in themselves. This can only be achieved by making an example of people, even gold medalists. The only way to stop the use of steroids is to tarnish the image of those who use them. We ourselves have to bring down our false idols. Initial reactions on the part of the sports authorities to the case of Fani Halkia are a step in the right direction. It is encouraging that they did not resort to the usual harangue about conspiracies. Other Greek athletes’ stance is of even greater symbolic importance: Piyi Devetzi clearly distanced herself from Halkia. «We are adults and we know what we are doing,» she said. Some people in Greece persist in turning a blind eye, seeing a conspiracy on the part of foreign countries or firms every time a Greek athlete fails a doping test. Marion Jones was the leading track and field athlete in the world and had signed hefty advertising contracts but, not only was she stripped of her medals, she went to prison. It is time for the leaders of the Greek sporting world, the state and the athletes themselves to show the same determination as the Americans. It would be the most important gold medal our country has won. The judicial inquiry into the affair is one step in the right direction. In August 2004, we were all moved to hear the national anthem played when Halkia won her gold medal. Today she is dealing with the most difficult experience of her life. If she dares to admit her mistake and asks for the public’s forgiveness, she will have made her own contribution to the catharsis of Greek sports. There are many who will forgive her and she might even keep a part of that sweet memory of 2004 alive.