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  • Greek hero risks ban

    Here we go again........

    August 13, 2004
    From corresponents in Athens

    THE Greek Olympic Committee confirmed that Olympic 200 metres champion Kostadinos Kenteris failed to appear for a mandatory doping test today.

    The Greek Olympic Committee confirmed that Kenteris and his training partner, Ekaterini Thanou, silver medallist in the women's 100m in Sydney four years ago, missed tests because they had been allowed to leave the Olympic Village.

    Both face expulsion from the Games.

    International Olympic Committee rules state that athletes must attend a drugs test when called. Failure to do so is regarded as an offence, unless there are exceptional circumstances.

    Kenteris became a Greek national hero after his surprise Sydney victory and has been tipped as the man who will light the flame at tomorrow's (AEST) opening ceremony.

    A ban for the 31-year-old would be a devastating blow to the Greek nation as it prepares to welcome the Games back to their spiritual home.

    IOC President Jacques Rogge said an investigation will be launched.

    "I have called for a disciplinary committee inquiry into two Greek athletes." Rogge declined to comment any further.

    The statement from the Greek Olympic Committee said that the chef de mission of the Greek Olympic team, Yannis Papadoyannakis, had received a request from the IOC Medical Commission that Kenteris and Thanou attend a test.

    But the athletes had left the Olympic Village to collect their belongings from their home and could not be found.

    When they realised they had missed the test, they asked to undergo one a few hours later.

    The statement said: "Today at 1815 hours, the IOC doping control representative came to the office of the chef du mission and stated that he was looking for the athletes Kenteris and Thanou in order to proceed to sample collections as requested by the IOC, but he did not find the athletes in their rooms.

    "Consequently he handed over two doping control notifications. The chef du mission also searched for the mentioned athletes but they were not in their rooms."

    Then the head of the Greek athletics team, Yannis Stamatopoulos, "explained that the aforementioned athletes left the Olympic Village in order to collect some of their personal belongings from their homes," the statement added.

    "Mr Stamatopoulos stressed that the athletes are coming back and ask for a few hours' extension in order to return to the Olympic Village and submit themselves to doping control," the statement said.

    Istvan Gyulai, secretary general of the International Association of Athletics Federations, said the athletes would have to prove they had not personally received notification that they were to be tested.

    "The question is whether they were personally notified. If only the team leader received it and he could not find them, they have an argument in law," Gyulai said.

    Kenteris became Greece's first male Olympic champion in athletics since 1912 when he won in Sydney.

    He went on to win the 2001 world title and the 2002 European title, becoming the only athlete to claim all three.

    Kenteris has attracted controversy because he rarely runs outside Greece, except in major championships.

    Last year, the IAAF investigated a report that Kenteris, Thanou and their coach, Christos Tzekos, were seen in Qatar after telling the Greek athletics federation (SEGAS) they were training in Crete.

  • #2
    Based on the Rio Ferdinand verdict, and how much Dick Pound criticised this for being soft (9 months for failing to attend a drug test), you would have to say they are GONE for the Olympics.

    The IOC have been soft in the past, but will lose complete credibility if these Greek athletes aren't banned. I'm sure they will be kicked out.
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    • #3
      Whilst the stadium blunders and failure to build a pool roof were seen as examples of Greek poor organisation, if they have bungled the drug procedures for their own star athletes and these cause their two biggest stars to be kicked out of their own Games, then their disorganisation will be almost unsurpassed in Olympic history.
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      • #4
        Further info:

        Balco's Greek link
        August 19, 2004
        By Mike Hurst in Athens

        SHAMED Greek sprinters Kostas Kenteris and Ekaterina Thanou were named in an email exchange between BALCO Laboratories owner Victor Conte and a Greek track and field coach, sources familiar with the US athletics scandal revealed yesterday.

        As the fallen Greek heroes withdrew from the Olympics, two sources told The San Jose Mercury News, which broke the BALCO story last year, that the pair had been the subject of an e-mail warning of the possibility of drug tests for the designer steroid THG.

        The e-mail pertaining to the Greeks was written to a former Greek sprinter-turned coach Andreas Linardatos, but according to Mercury News sources he was relaying the message to Kenteris and Thanou.

        Conte's e-mail read: "We might also want to somehow get this information to the coach for the Greek athletes (redacted) and (redacted) so that nobody tests positive. They seem to be ready to charge athletes on a 'related substances' charge."

        The redacted names are those of Kenteris and Thanou, the sources said. The reference to the Greek coach is to Christos Tsekos, said the sources, who have read the e-mail.

        Conte and three other men have been charged by US Federal authorities with distributing illegal drugs to an elite clientele who allegedly include Marion Jones, the superstar of the Sydney Olympics where she won an Olympic women's record five medals in a single Games, including three gold medals.

        US government documents say at least 27 athletes received THG, including nine who have tested positive for the drug.

        Linardatos, a former national-level sprinter, told the Athens sports daily Goal News in February that he was the recipient of the e-mail.

        Linardatos has appeared on a BALCO-related website as an endorser and distributes the company's legal dietary supplements, such as ZMA, in Greece.

        Four Greek athletes also have appeared on a BALCO website: Olga Vasdeki, a 2000 Olympic triple jumper; Christos Polychroniou, a hammer thrower; Christos Meletoglou, a triple jumper; and Thomas Sbokos, a sprinter.

        Their names had been edited out in documents leaked from US Federal Grand Jury testimony.

        While the Conte e-mail does not specifically mention drug use, it implicates Greece's biggest sports stars in an escalating controversy that has generated nearly as many headlines in Greece as the Olympics.

        When leaving hospital, where he was treated for injuries from a motorcycle accident with Thanou last week, Kenteris declared: "I am suffering a great injustice, and I want to say I never used banned substances."

        Thanou, the 2000 silver medallist in the women's 100 meters, declined to comment about the missed tests when she left the hospital a few minutes later.

        They couldn't be reached for comment about the e-mail.

        The sting that has nabbed the drug cheats involved in the BALCO scandal will have some athletes shaking in their spikes here in Greece.

        When the designer steroid THG was identified in a syringe handed to the US Anti-Doping Agency -- by successful North Carolina sprint coach Trevor Graham -- the testers had a good idea who they were looking for.

        On August 1 last year the testers nailed Britain's European Championship 100m winner Dwain Chambers and eventually retested urine samples taken at the US team trials for the 2003 Paris world championships.

        Second time around - when they knew what to look for - these tests picked up Regina Jacobs, Kevin Toth and John McEwen for the same previously undetectable steroid. In another double-cross, it is rumoured that one of Graham's rival coaches tipped off the French drug-testing agency that a stimulant known as modafinil was being used by some Americans, including Kelli White, who won the world championship women's 100m and 200m sprint double.

        Others scooped up in the screen for modafinil included White's training partner Chryste Gaines in another retest of a US trials sample. The world 400m hurdles silver medallist Sandra Glover, world 110m hurdles finalist Chris Phillips and 400m hurdles world championship semi-finalist Eric Thomas were also picked up in the retrospective test.

        This is a war between the testers and the cheaters, and between coaches vying for greater glory and profit.

        For all the millions of dollars which have been poured into the global anti-doping campaign, the fact remains that it took a couple of coaches turning in information to the agencies before the labs could find the drugs.

        The labs test for comparatively few steroids because only a few are used by athletes. This is because most of the others are ineffective.

        The labs can only find what they are looking for, which is something that has already been identified.

        That is why THG - also called "the clear" - was used with impunity by those athletes until the labs were given a sample of the substance to play with.

        New substances are being designed all the time by rogue chemists altering drugs that have already been identified.

        Although Chambers was caught before Paris last year, emails seized from the BALCO lab in San Francisco prove that its boss, Victor Conte, knew that THG had been turned in and he warned some clients, including Greeks, that they had better get off the gear.

        Contrary to claims by the Greek sprinters, Greek deputy Olympic team manager, Manolis Kolybadis, said he did advise the pair they would be drug-tested in the village.

        "They were like scared pigeons ... they were very frightened," Kolybadis said.

        "I told them they would be asked to take a test, at some point, from the time they entered the village.

        "Thanou was shaking all over, and when I asked her, 'Why are you shaking?', she asked me, 'Why are they chasing us? What do they want from us?"'

        The truth might be a good place to start.

        The Daily Telegraph
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        • #5
          In the ancient tradition of falling on one's sword, Greek sprinters Kostasdinos Kenteris and Katarina Thanou have pulled out of the Olympic Games after it became obvious that they would face a mandatory suspension for failing to take a mandatory drug test in the Olympic village prior to the opening ceremony. No defence, other than the routine protestation of their innocence, was offered, including no explanation of the farcical circumstances regarding their motorcycle accident. Kenteris had already been censured by the Greeks when he was told he would not be lighting the Olympic flame, as planned. There will be ongoing speculation that perhaps these runners were scared off by rumours that Human Growth Hormone is now about to be tested for or that they had undertaken in-house testing which revealed positive traces of anabolic steroids, but it seems that they were unable to come up with a credible argument as to why they had evaded drug testers. There were also too many precedents that insisted that failure to test when required must result in a severe penalty. IOC Drug Spokesman Dick Pound was highly critical of the Football Association for given Rio Ferdinand only a nine month ban when he missed a test in very similar circumstances. Stupidity or poor planning is no longer an excuse for failing to drug test, and it is known that athletes who have time to prepare for a test away from the vision of chaperones can catheterise clean urine into their bladders to ensure they pass a clean sample (a technique which German sprinter Katrin Krabbe appeared to successfully use in the 1990s until it was discovered that she was passing exactly the same urine as her teammates). The thought that the two most prominent Greek athletes would be riding a motorcycle the day before the Olympics start is beyond belief, given the high rate of accidents of these vehicles and the resources that would be available to them. Unless they have had a brain explosion, the motorcycle accident smells of a deliberate distraction that may have been used to make their excuse seem more legitimate, when in fact the drug testing process should be set up so there is no such thing as a legitimate excuse.
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