Greek athletes to face music on Wednesday

The long-running missed drugs test saga of Kostas Kenteris and Katerina Thanou should take a decisive step forward on Wednesday when they finally face their IOC inquisitors.

The long-running missed drugs test saga of Kostas Kenteris and Katerina Thanou should take a decisive step forward on Wednesday when they finally face their IOC inquisitors.

The Greek sprint pair had their disciplinary hearing postponed for a second time this morning after their legal team presented fresh medical evidence to the three-man commission confirming they were not well enough to attend in person.

With their lawyer Michalis Dimitrakapoulos adding that he would guarantee the presence of reigning Olympic 200 metres champion Kenteris and 100m silver medallist Thanou if the hearing was put back 48 hours, the panel unanimously decided to call it off for a second time.

However, the IOC’s judicial advisor Francois Carrard indicated that there would be no further delay to a case which first came to light on Thursday evening.

“Usually hearings like this are completed in one day,” said Carrard.

“Unless something totally new comes from the evidence, it will be the last day. One way or another it should be resolved on Wednesday.”

Carrard confirmed there was “more than one” charge being levelled against Kenteris and Thanou, confirming the comments of IAAF president Lamine Diack who indicated the pair had been absent when IOC testers called on them in Chicago last week.

They were also missing on Thursday, barely three hours after flying from their United States training camp, when the doping controllers arrived at the Olympic Village to carry out a random test.

That triggered a chain of events which ended with the pair entering the KAT hospital in Athens in the early hours of Friday morning following a motorcycle accident to which no witnesses have come forward.

The pair have remained in hospital ever since. Kenteris is still suffering headaches, while Thanou, who is due to compete on Friday, is reported to have a groin problem.

In the absence of the athletes, it was left to their coach Christos Tzekos - who like the athletes has been temporarily suspended from the Greek team by the Hellenic Olympic Committee – to launch a vehement public defence, insisting they would eventually be cleared.

“It is never good when something like this happens,” he said.

“But we are happy with this decision because it gives the athletes a chance to speak for themselves. We are definitely confident they will be cleared.”

Having managed to prolong the case so far, Tzekos may yet be proved correct.

However public opinion in Greece has started to turn against the athletes, who had a separate ‘no-show’ logged against their names by the IAAF in Tel Aviv late last month.

The obvious problem for the IOC is that the facts of the case extend far beyond a normal positive doping case.

The IOC’s three-man panel – comprising Ukrainian pole vault legend Sergei Bubka, Athens co-ordination committee chairman Denis Oswald and IOC vice-president Thomas Bach – felt it was essential to the case to hear from Kenteris and Thanou directly.

“It was a unanimous decision to suspend the hearing,” said Carrard.

“We have seen the medical report and have no reason to challenge it.

“We are still in the evidence and fact-finding stage of this procedure and in the interests of fairness towards the athletes it is essential that we have the chance to ask them questions and hear what they have to say.

“This is not just a matter of a positive doping case where we have facts, figures and ratios. Here there are a number of factors; whereabouts, location, addresses, situations of the athletes.

“This is why we want to provide the athletes with an opportunity to explain themselves.

“Their legal representative has given us his personal commitment that the athletes will be able to attend the hearing on Wednesday.”

While Carrard is confident the three-man commission will be able to refer their recommendations to the IOC executive board on Wednesday, it is unlikely to mark the end of the case as the athletes would have the right to appeal if punished.

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