Threatened Athlete Sprints Off

In unconfirmed reports that have just reached us, a top athlete has apparently fled Sydney after being threatened in her hotel room.

It appears the reclusive athlete was startled when a deranged madman with a syringe burst into her hotel room.

Hotel management quickly moved into damage control denying the possibility of anyone breaching the tight security system.

"We have state-of-the-art security in this hotel. There is no way any unauthorised person could have got past the front desk," said the head of hotel security.

No one is sure how somebody could have made it through the security cordon around the hotel and the athlete. Police are investigating the incident although no charges have been laid.

French officials, furious over the incident, have demanded an apology from SOCOG.

"Our athletes are under a lot of pressure. They cannot perform if they are constantly hounded and threatened. The security has been appalling," the French coach said. "Now one of our athletes has been threatened by a crazy man with a syringe".

NSW morals campaigner Fred Nile immediately called for an end to the proposed trial of Sydney's first legalised heroin injecting room. "This is an embarrassment for Australia in the eyes of the world," said Mr Nile in a press statement.

A SOCOG official confirmed they had already apologised to the French team and stepped up security. "We are doing all we can," the official said. "We apologised in French first and then English. However there is not much we can do if athletes chose to stay outside the athletic village".

The incident was witnessed by a group of underpaid hotel workers shipped in from Indonesia who were crammed into the room next door.

"I was just starting my shift, when I heard the knocking," said one of the workers through an interpreter. "It was so loud, I thought it was here, so I went to open the door. I saw a man standing outside the room next door.

"I thought it was a bit strange. We didn't think anyone was in the room next door. No one ever answered the phone when it rang.

"Then there was lots of yelling and screaming. And then this woman just took off down the corridor. I have never seen anyone run so bloody fast.

"The man screamed out 'You may be able to run but you cannot hide, we will track you down wherever you go' before being attacked by someone else in the entourage on the way out of the room".

Initial reports are sketchy, but it appears the intruder managed to gain access by identifying himself as an IOC official. He did have a syringe and was only trying to obtain a blood sample.

An IOC spokesperson expressed surprise when told of the eyewitness report.

"I cannot believe that any IOC official would be involved in this," he said. "This is not how we operate. Our sponsors would simply not tolerate it.

"Besides, we do not just burst in on someone. We generally call them up first and set up an appointment. If we ever get hold of them, they are usually eager to comply. We usually only test athletes from the less important sports like weightlifting and cycling.

"Even then contracts with our sponsors insist we make every effort to ensure they are from countries were sales are not likely to be adversely affected."

Thousands of fans are likely to be disappointed, but A SOCOG official confirmed that there would be no ticket refunds.

"We are determined to ensure these games are as drug free as possible and if a few athletes can't cope with that, there is nothing we can do.

"A lot of money has been spent on these games. Australians deserve to get their monies worth. As more athletes curb their drug habit events can only become more exciting and unpredictable."

SOCOG were confident there would still be enough athletes competing to make the rest of the events worthwhile.