Athletes ‘faked motorbike accident’

INITIAL investigations have revealed that Greek sprinters Kostadinos Kenteris and Ekaterini Thanou probably faked a motorcycle accident after missing a drugs test, a high-ranking legal source said yesterday.

The findings throw more doubt on the future career of Kenteris, the Olympic 200m champion, and Thanou, the 100m silver medal-winner in Sydney.

Greece’s two top sprinters were said to have suffered minor injuries in the mysterious accident which occurred late last week after they had failed to appear for a doping test at the Olympic athletes’ village.

The duo pulled out of the Athens Olympics on Wednesday after facing an International Olympic Committee probe to explain their non-appearance for the test.

The inquiry by a Greek prosecutor had shown that either the accident did not happen, or the athletes deliberately crashed the bike in order to give themselves injuries, the source added.

Philippos Koutsaftis, a medical expert who examined the athletes on Monday, concluded that if there had been an accident the motorbike must have been travelling at a low speed, the source said.

Koutsaftis also told the investigation that the initial reports on the duo’s condition from the KAT hospital in Athens had exaggerated the extent of their injuries, which were minor. Kenteris and Thanou remained in hospital for five days, which the expert concluded was unnecessary.

The sprinters’ lawyer had claimed the couple fell from the motorbike Kenteris was steering as they were rushing back to the athletes’ village from their coach’s house in Athens after discovering they were needed for the doping test.

But no accident was reported to police and no ambulance was called to the scene. A police investigation was launched because of contradictions in the pair’s statements.

They were summoned to explain why they had missed the doping test to an IOC hearing last Friday, but gained two extensions because they said they had not recovered from their injuries.

Kenteris, who made a startling improvement in performance before winning the gold medal in Sydney, has insisted he was not trying to evade the drugs testers.

The International Association of Athletics Federations is set to rule on August 26 whether to ban Kenteris and Thanou from competition for missing other drugs tests this year.

While public opinion has turned against Kenteris and Thanou, the Greek media feel the athletes have been singled out for punishment when those from other countries have been largely left alone.

The IOC has already denied rumours that 100m favourite Maurice Greene had a ‘no-show’ for a drugs test at the US pre-Olympic training camp in Crete, but this has not quelled the Greeks’ sense of injustice.

However, the IOC are believed to be content with the way events have been handled and say the focus can now start moving off the drugs issue and onto the sporting events.

That particular process will not be easy though, following news that a number of weightlifters have been suspended after testing positive.

The International Weightlifting Federation said it had suspended two more weightlifters who failed out of competition drugs tests, bringing the total number to seven.

IWF chief Tamas Ajan said a female athlete from Myanmar competing in the 48-kg category and an Indian female athlete had tested positive to anabolic steroids and diuretics respectively.

It was not immediately clear whether the Myanmar athlete was the same one expelled from the Games last Monday after testing positive for a banned steroid.

Earlier the IWF had announced Wafa Ammouri of Morocco, Victor Chislean of Moldova, Zoltan Kecskes of Hungary, Pratima Kumari of India and Shabaz Sule of Turkey had all failed IWF doping tests before competition at the Athens Olympics, testing positive to anabolic steroids.

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