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.