Athletics: Rogge says race to host 2012 Games is 'closest in history'

Jacques Rogge, the International Olympic Committee's president, yesterday suggested the contest to stage the 2012 Games was the closest ever.

Jacques Rogge, the International Olympic Committee's president, yesterday suggested the contest to stage the 2012 Games was the closest ever.

Speaking in Brisbane, where the five bidding cities - London, Paris, New York, Moscow and Madrid - will present submissions to Oceania delegates today, Rogge said: "It's very early to say who's in front, who's behind. This is a very close race, five of the greatest cities in the world bidding for the Olympic Games this time. The toughest race probably in history."

Rogge refused to speculate on who might be the front-runners for the prize, which will be awarded by the IOC in Singapore on 6 July. But earlier this week, reports indicated that London's performance during the recent visit by the IOC Evaluation Commission had elevated it to the status of joint-favourite with the Paris bid.

Rogge has confirmed the latest "designer steroid" to be uncovered, DMT (desoxy-methyl-testosterone), was not being used by any of the athletes who competed at last summer's Athens Games. "The Athens samples have been tested and they were negative, definitely," Rogge said.

Canadian scientists last month uncovered the new steroid, which was designed to avoid detection in standard drug tests.

The World Anti-Doping Agency said last month that Canadian scientists had identified the substance after a tip-off from an anonymous source - the same method which led to the uncovering in 2003 of the steroid at the centre of the Balco investigation, THG (tetrahydrogestrinone).

Christiane Ayotte, director of Montreal's anti-doping lab, said last month there was no evidence DMT had been used by athletes after retesting thousands of urine samples.

Rogge's confirmation of the test results from the 2004 Athens Games supports WADA's claim that the discovery has represented a pre-emptive strike against cheats.

* Tracey Morris has withdrawn from the London Marathon on 17 April because of an ankle injury.

The 37-year-old Leeds optician made her name by taking more than an hour off her best time in last year's race, and earned an Olympic place as top British woman finisher. She went on to finish 29th in the Athens event.

"It is incredibly disappointing to have to withdraw from London which is such a special race for me," she said.

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