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Newz Forum: OLYMPICS: Water given to soccer team in Athens is spiked

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posted on Jun, 9 2004 @ 03:59 PM
ATHENS, Greece (AP) - Bottled water given to a visiting soccer team by an Athens squad was found to have been spiked with a powerful depressant, after tests conducted when mystery illnesses struck two other teams at earlier games.

Olympics organizers quickly ruled out the possibility of such an incident occurring at the Aug. 13-29 Athens Games, saying all food and water for athletes would be subject to random inspections for poisons or substances that might enhance performance. When Akratitos played Kalithea, another Athens team, on March 20, the Kalithea coach was hospitalized for three days after losing consciousness after the game. Akratitos drew that game, 0-0.

After an April 17 game between host Akratitos and Ionikos, at least one player from the visiting team was hospitalized and doctors were unsure what caused him to pass out. Akratitos won that match, 3-0. Greece's Food Inspection Agency said Wednesday it had found that a hypodermic needle was used to inject the drug haloperidol into the water bottle. It said it was turning results of its tests over to a prosecutor so that a criminal investigation could be opened.

A sealed bottle of water was given to the agency by the visiting Iraklis team after an April 21 game with host Akratitos, which won the game 1-0. The agency did not say if the quantity of the powerful depressant found in the water was enough to affect an adult. It was also unclear how much of the water was consumed by Iraklis players during the game.

"Haloperidol is a powerful chemical substance used in medicine and is considered a powerful neurological drug given in serious and long-term cases of psychosis,'' the agency said. "This case will immediately be turned over to a prosecutor."

An investigation could lead to other inquiries concerning Akratitos. One possible motive for the alleged spiking could be for Akratitos to remain in the lucrative first division and play Greece's top soccer teams. Akratitos ended up with 5 wins, 8 draws and 17 losses, and was relegated to the second division after finishing 14th in the 16-team league.

"We have nothing to fear and want to shed as much light on this case as possible," Akratitos said in a statement.

Sports Minister Giorgos Orfanos said the incident "blackened" the reputation of Greek soccer.

"Everyone can rest assured that justice will be done and those responsible punished," Orfanos said.

Greece's Association of Professional Soccer Clubs has also asked for an investigation and said the allegations "by far surpasses the limits of the imagination."

The players union described the incident as "shameful and disgusting."

"This is the most serious incident which has ever occurred on Greek soccer fields," the players union said. "It is shameful and disgusting to endanger the health of professional soccer players by giving them forbidden and dangerous drugs."


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