washingtonpost.com  > Sports > Leagues and Sports > Olympics > 2004 > Sport-by-Sport > Track and Field

Two Greeks Exit Instead Of Risking Expulsion

Drug Scandal Surrounds Stars Kenteris, Thanou

By Amy Shipley
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, August 19, 2004; Page D09

ATHENS, Aug. 18 -- The Greek sprinters at the center of a drug scandal withdrew from the Summer Games on Wednesday, avoiding the ignominy of being thrown out of the Olympics in their home nation but failing to escape a possible two-year ban for missing several mandatory drug tests.

Kostas Kenteris and Katerina Thanou turned in their Olympic accreditation at the start of a much-delayed hearing in front of the International Olympic Committee's three-person disciplinary commission at a local hotel Wednesday morning. Their coach, Christos Tzekos, also withdrew from the Games.

Katerina Thanou, right, and coach Christos Tzekos, left, leave hotel after meeting with IOC officials. (Thanassis Stavrakis -- AP)

_____ Day 6 _____
Paul Hamm wins the men's gymnastics individual all-around.
The U.S. women's relay team breaks a 17-year-old record.
Shot putters compete on the site of the original Games.
Venus Williams and Andy Roddick both lose in the third round of the tennis tournament.
American cyclist Tyler Hamilton wins the gold medal, while Dede Barry takes silver in the road time trials.
U.S. boxers triumph in six of their first seven bouts.
The U.S. softball team posts its fifth straight shutout with a 7-0 win over Canada.
U.S. shot putter Adam Nelson settles for silver after five fouls.
Japan's Kosuke Kitajima completes a sweep of Olympic breastsroke events by winning the 200.
The Canadian water polo team pulls off a stunning comeback to beat the United States.
American shooter Kim Rhode rallies to win the gold medal in double trap.
The U.S. double scull of Aquil Abdullah and Henry Nuzum advances in a photo finish.
Greek sprinters withdraw from Games after missing a drug test.
Phelps, Coughlin and Peirsol advance in swimming heats.

_____ More From The Post _____
Michael Wilbon: Of the 72 countries that sent boxers to Athens, 13 are coached by Cuba.
For China, the future is both now and later.
In water polo, the brutality is just beneath the surface.

_____ On Our Site _____
Athens Snippets: A scoring controversy? At the Olympics?
Graphic: The dangers of the spin technique in the shot put.
Graphic: China has more golds than any country so far.

___ Wednesday's Medals Results ___
Women's individual
Men's shot put
Women's shot put
Cycling (Road)
Women's time trial
Men's time trial
Men's single slalom
Women's single slalom
Individual eventing
Team eventing
Women's individual foil
Gymnastics (Artistic)
Men's individual all-around
Men's 90kg
Women's 70kg
Women's double trap
Men's 100 freestyle
Men's 200 breaststroke
Women's 200 butterfly
Women's 4 x 200 freestyle relay
Women's 63kg
Men's 69kg

_____ Multimedia _____
Audio: U.S. women break record.
Audio: The journey to Olympia.

_____ Photos _____
Day 6
Photo galleries page

_____Free E-mail Newsletters_____
• Redskins
• News Headlines
• News Alert

Hours later, the IOC executive board decided to take no action against the sprinters or their coach but said they would have to face the IOC's disciplinary commission before participating in any future Games. The IOC also referred the matter to the world track and field governing body, which will consider a possible two-year ban for both sprinters after the Aug. 29 conclusion of the Games.

"They cannot be excluded from the Games because they have excluded themselves," said Francois Carrard, a legal adviser for the disciplinary commission. "These two athletes, who were stars and heroes and icons in their country will not be taking part in the ultimate competition of their career, and [they will be] prevented from going to further Games without another procedure."

IAAF medical commission chief Arne Ljungqvist said the IAAF would decide how to proceed during an IAAF commission meeting in Athens on Aug. 26. The sprinters were accused of missing two mandatory drug tests during the Olympic testing period, including one shortly before the Games in Chicago. They also missed a mandatory IAAF drug test in July, according to Ljungqvist.

"We had three missed tests in the space of 18 months," Ljungqvist said. "We have a matter to deal with."

Wednesday's hearing had been originally scheduled for last Friday, a day after the second missed test during the Olympic Games testing period. The athletes, however, were in a motorcycle accident hours before the hearing and did not attend. They missed another scheduled hearing on Monday, as they were hospitalized through Tuesday night.

Kenteris, 31, addressed reporters outside a local hotel after the hearing, proclaimed his innocence and announced that he had cut ties with his coach, Tzekos.

"I am innocent of all charges," said Kenteris, the reigning 200-meter Olympic champion.

Carrard said the disciplinary commission had not concluded its investigation and would consider whether any coaches or accredited officials surrounding the athletes had "been the villains." Ljungqvist, too, said coaches or other officials were subject to possible disciplinary action.

The pair were named in an e-mail authored by Victor Conte, the founder of the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative (BALCO), which is at the center of a federal steroid investigation in the United States. The San Jose Mercury News first reported the connection Tuesday. Conte and three others were indicted in February on steroid distribution charges.

In the 2002 e-mail that is part of the indictment, Conte says that the coach for two Greek athletes -- whose names were redacted -- should be warned that the IOC had been made aware of "the clear," which federal investigators allege refers to an anabolic steroid.

"They seem to be ready to charge athletes on a 'related substances' charge," the e-mail said.

Thanou, who finished second to U.S. sprinter Marion Jones in the 100 at the 2000 Summer Games, said she would not compete in the Olympics but intended to continue her career in the sport.

"With the love of the public, I will continue taking part in track and field competition," Thanou, 27, said.

The pair appeared before the commission with Tzekos and their attorney, Michalis Dimitrakopoulos.

© 2004 The Washington Post Company