Brazilian sports officials blamed inadequate course security for a defrocked priest's bizarre attack on the Olympic marathon leader, and said yesterday they will appeal to world track authorities for a duplicate gold medal.
The criticism of Athens Olympic organizers, who have been praised for their overall security, came as former priest Cornelius Horan was given a one-year suspended sentence. Horan also was fined $3,600 and warned to stay out of trouble in Greece for the next three years.
Carlos Arthur Nuzman, president of the Brazilian Olympic Committee, said marathoner Vanderlei de Lima should have been better guarded as he ran ahead of the field with about three miles to go Sunday night on the closing day of the Olympics. Horan jumped from the crowd and grabbed de Lima, knocking him into roadside spectators. De Lima continued running, but soon lost his lead and finished third.
"It's a big mistake. The moment you have a leader, you need to have two motorcycles together protecting him," Nuzman said. "The athlete cannot pay for such a mistake."
Athens Olympic organizers could not immediately be reached to comment.
Roberto Gesta de Melo, head of the Brazilian track federation, said an appeal will be filed in about a week with the International Association of Athletics Federations seeking a gold medal for de Lima. An IAAF race jury rejected a similar appeal Sunday night, saying it sympathized with the Brazilian but could not change the result.
Brazilian officials emphasized they have no intention of taking medals away from champion Stefano Baldini of Italy or runner-up Meb Keflezighi of the United States. They said they will appeal to the Swiss-based Court of Arbitration for Sport if the IAAF does not agree to the second gold medal.
Horan has a history of disrupting sporting events and was convicted by a three-member misdemeanor court of violating Greece's laws on extracurricular sports, which usually are used for soccer hooligans. He was expected to return home to London.
Thousands of athletes, sports officials and visitors to Athens began leaving the Greek capital in a mass post-Olympic exodus.
Athens International Airport said it had scheduled a record 900 flights and expected more than 9,000 athletes and Olympic officials to leave by the end of the day. About 11,000 athletes from 202 countries participated in the Games.
Several cruise ships that served as floating hotels also set sail from the Port of Piraeus, the port authority said.
About 15,000 people, including government leaders, stayed aboard more than eight cruise ships and luxury yachts. They included the world's largest passenger ship, the Queen Mary 2.
Mirabella Awarded Bronze
The International Olympic Committee's decision to award Erin Mirabella a bronze medal gave the United States its biggest cycling medal haul since the 1984 Los Angeles Games.
Mirabella was named the medalist Sunday for the women's points race, a decision that gave USA Cycling four medals in Athens. American riders took three medals away from both Atlanta and Sydney.
Mirabella finished behind Colombia's Maria Luisa Calle Williams in Wednesday's race. Williams, though, tested positive for Heptaminol, a prohibited stimulant that she denied taking. The Colombian Olympic Committee also said she tested negative in its post-race exam.
Still, the IOC stripped the Colombian of her medal and diploma and ordered it immediately returned.
NBC's audience ratings rose 9 percent over the 2000 Games in Sydney, the lowest-rated Summer Olympics since 1968.
The telecasts for the 17 days of the Games were watched by an average 15 percent of U.S. households with televisions, compared with 13.8 percent for the Sydney Games, NBC said, citing Nielsen Media Research Inc.
NBC and its related cable outlets showed more than 1,210 hours of coverage from Greece, surpassing the total for the past five Summer Olympics combined.
Prime-time ratings for the games rose 14 percent over the Sydney Games. Ratings for Sunday's Closing Ceremonies were 10 percent higher than for Sydney. About 108.4 million U.S. households have televisions, according to Nielsen.
U.S. Athlete Charged
A U.S. Olympic volleyball player was charged with assault, accused of hitting a pregnant woman during a scuffle.
Police identified him as Clayton Stanley, who lives in Greece and plays for a local team. Stanley was taken before a judge, and requested and received two days to prepare his defense. He was ordered held pending the trial.