ATHENS, Aug. 13 (Friday) -- Greek sprinters Costas Kenteris and Katerina Thanou were taken to a hospital after being involved in a traffic accident a few hours before they were to face an International Olympic Committee disciplinary board for failing to attend a doping test.
Police said the pair was on a motorcycle when the accident occurred -- on the day of the Opening Ceremonies -- and that they had not been seriously hurt.
_____ From The Post _____ • Last-minute frenzy and unforeseen expenditures have stretched Greece almost beyond its capacity.
• In its first Olympic competition since its country was shattered by war, Iraq upsets Portugal, 4-2, on Thursday.
• Michael Wilbon: The boxing tradition has suffered in Sydney, and just might suffer in Athens too.
• Sally Jenkins: Anti-doping chief Dick Pound should quit trying to enlarge his reputation by attacking others.
• Mike Wise: Everything Michael Phelps touches may not turn into gold.
• Athens Snippets: Things are heating up in Athens.
• The Olympic Games return to their birthplace Friday.
• Dawn Staley will carry the U.S. flag during Opening Ceremonies.
• Notebook: Greek sprinters Costas Kenteris and Katerina Thanou were taken to a hospital after being involved in a traffic accident.
_____ On Our Site _____ • Photos: Athens puts on a colorful show for its Olympic visitors.
_____ Live Online _____ • The Post's Liz Clarke will discuss gymnastics Friday at 11 a.m.
• The Post's Amy Shipley will talk about swimming Friday at Noon.
_____ Multimedia _____ • Audio: Athens is ready for the start of the Games.
• Audio: Security has always been a major issue for the Olympics.
Hospital officials could not immediately be reached to comment.
Kenteris, who could not be located for a doping test in the athletes' village on Thursday, is Greece's best hope for a gold medal on the track at the Athens Games. He's considered a favorite to light the cauldron at Friday's ceremony.
The IOC's Anti-Doping Rules for the Athens Games say doping violations include "refusing, or failing without compelling justification, to submit to sample collection after notification." Such a violation may lead to ineligibility for the Games.
The Greek Olympic Committee said an IOC drug tester went to the athletes' rooms and the sprinters had left. Neither has tested positive in the past.
Kenteris was one of the biggest surprises of the 2000 Sydney Games, winning the 200 to become the first Greek man to win an Olympic medal in a running event since 1896. Thanou was the 100 silver medalist in Sydney.
Late Withdrawal Costs U.S.
Serena Williams's last-minute withdrawal from the Olympics cost the U.S. team a spot in the 64-player singles draw, but the slot could have gone to another American if Williams had informed U.S. officials that she couldn't play just four days earlier.
U.S. women's coach Zina Garrison, who initially shouldered part of the blame for the unfortunate timing, was asked whether all of her players had been aware that Aug. 7 was the deadline for replacing athletes named to Olympic tennis teams.
"It was clear in my mind," Garrison said during a news conference at the Athens Olympic Complex. "Maybe I didn't exactly say it to them." But Garrison contradicted herself just as quickly, adding that she telephoned all six of the women's players the day before the deadline to make sure there wouldn't be any last-minute problems.
"They did know it was the 7th," Garrison added.
Nonetheless, Garrison said, she was focusing on the players she did have entering the tournament, which starts Sunday.
Venus Williams is the top seed (sixth) among the three Americans in the women's draw. She opens against Hungary's Melinda Czink, ranked 103rd in the world. Chanda Rubin, seeded 16th, opens against Australia's Samantha Stosur, who was awarded Serena Williams's spot after the former world No. 1 player pulled out about three hours before the team boarded the plane bound for Athens. Unseeded Lisa Raymond, named to replace Jennifer Capriati, who bowed out with a sore hamstring, faces Slovakia's Lubomira Kurhajcova. Raymond already was on the roster because she's teaming with Martina Navratilova to play doubles. In the men's draw, No. 2 seed Andy Roddick opens against Brazil's Flavio Saretta.
-- Liz Clarke
Jones Will Run 400 Relay
Marion Jones is on the 400-meter relay team and, if all goes as planned, she will run all three rounds, U.S. women's coach Sue Humphrey said. The women's relay squad would be, in order, Angela Williams, Jones, Lauryn Williams and LaTasha Colander.
In other track news:
The U.S.'s Muna Lee (200 meters) hasn't been working out because of a strained right calf but said she'll resume training Monday.
Men's coach George Williams said he will go with the quartet of Shawn Crawford, Justin Gatlin, Coby Miller and Maurice Greene for the 400 relay.
Allen Johnson (Lake Braddock High), 33, was elected captain of the men's team.
South Koreans Set Marks
South Korea's Park Sung Hyun set an individual world record of 682 points Thursday during the ranking round of the women's archery competition. Park broke the 72-arrow mark of 679, set in May by Italy's Natalia Valeeva.
The team of Park, Lee Sung Jin and Yun Mi Jin also set a world record of 2,030 for the 216-arrow ranking round. In the men's competition, South Korea's Im Dong Hyun set a 72-arrow world record with a score of 687. He broke the record of 685 set by countryman Shim Young Sung in 1995.
The ranking round determines the seeding for the single-elimination individual tournament, which will start Sunday.