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Newz Forum: OLYMPICS: Greek sprinters may withdrawl

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posted on Aug, 13 2004 @ 01:48 PM
-- Greek Olympic champion Kostas Kenteris might withdraw from the Athens Games following accusations he evaded a drug test on the eve of the opening ceremony, a source told The Associated Press on Friday.

Greece's Olympic Committee called an emergency board meeting for Saturday to discuss the case, and a source within the committee said on condition of anonymity that one of the topics will be whether Kenteris should pull out of the Olympics.

The International Olympic Committee was forced to postpone its own hearing after Kenteris and fellow Greek sprinter Katerina Thanou were hospitalized with injuries from a motorcycle wreck Thursday night. Thanou has also been accused of dodging drug testers. The IOC hearing was rescheduled for Monday.

The accident and accusations involving two of the nation's biggest sports stars stunned Greeks on the day of the Athens Games' opening ceremony, leaving organizers red-faced.

Kenteris had been considered a favorite to light the cauldron before a worldwide audience. The torchbearer traditionally remains a mystery until the last moment.

Kenteris, the defending Olympic 200-meter champion, and Thanou, the 100-meter silver medalist in Sydney, were not seriously hurt in the accident, police said. They were expected to stay in the hospital for two more days, leaving them unable to attend their hearing Friday.

IOC officials granted a request to postpone the hearing until Monday, when the athletes might be available to attend.

"The games are much stronger than individuals," IOC president Jacques Rogge said at a news conference. "We have had widely publicized doping cases before -- they have not damaged the image of the games."

Rogge said the IOC's medical director had gone to the hospital, near the main stadium complex, to give the sprinters a written summons to attend the disciplinary hearing.

The athletes were not present when the hearing began in the early afternoon, but Greek Olympic team leader Yiannis Papadoyiannakis attended on their behalf -- which is allowable under IOC rules -- and asked for the postponement.

The sprinters' coach said a decision on whether they are well enough to compete will be made in the next few days. Track competition begins Aug. 20.

A statement from KAT hospital said the 31-year-old Kenteris had "cranial trauma," whiplash and open wounds on his lower leg. Thanou sustained abdominal bruises, injuries to her right hip and a muscular injury to her right upper leg. They were listed in stable condition.

Kenteris, who could not be found for a doping test in the athletes' village Thursday, is Greece's best hope for a gold medal in track.

He and Thanou returned to Greece after a training session in Chicago and moved into the Olympic village, where the IOC failed to find them for a drug test. Last year, the pair missed an out-of-competition drug test -- they were in Qatar after informing anti-doping officials they would be training on the Greek island of Crete.

Neither has tested positive for drugs. IAFF general secretary Istvan Gyulai said Kenteris passed two out-of-competition tests in the past 10 months, and Thanou passed two tests in the last seven months.
Arne Ljungqvist, the IOC medical commission chairman, said the drug testers had tried to find the athletes in Chicago a few days ago but couldn't. The sprinters had stopped in Germany on their way to the Olympic.

Once they were found in Athens, they were told to submit samples but didn't, said Ljungqvist, also the anti-doping chief of the International Association of Athletics Federations.

"There was no intention from the Hellenic Olympic Committee to hide anything," Papadoyiannakis told state-run NET television. "If there has been some kind of misunderstanding, that's something different. Many athletes leave the Olympic village for many reasons, to enjoy themselves."

Christos Tsekos, the sprinters' coach, said they had their cell phones turned off and didn't know they were being sought.

The head of the Greek track team, Yiannis Stamatopoulos, said the athletes had left the village to collect personal belongings from home. He said they had asked for an extension to take the drug tests.


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