Criminal probe into fallen Greek sprint stars

A senior prosecutor launched an investigation today into two disgraced Greek sprinters who withdrew from the Athens Olympics after missing a drugs test and were involved in a mysterious motorcycle accident hours later.

A senior prosecutor launched an investigation today into two disgraced Greek sprinters who withdrew from the Athens Olympics after missing a drugs test and were involved in a mysterious motorcycle accident hours later.

Prosecutor Spyros Mouzakitis will supervise the inquiry into sprinters Kostas Kenteris and Katerina Thanou after being handed reports from the traffic police, a medical examiner and others, judicial officials said.

Mouzakitis will investigate whether the two athletes tried to avoid a doping test by manufacturing a motorcycle accident.

The scandal, which began on the eve of the August 13 opening ceremony, has shocked the Olympic hosts who had lauded Kenteris and Thanou, the gold and silver medal winners in the 200 and 100 metre races at the Sydney Games.

Mouzakitis also expanded existing strands of the investigation to examine the past of the sprinters’ coach, Christos Tzekos, following revelations that he had imported unlicensed products for his food company.

The inquiry could result in the prosecution of the sprinters and the coach if it determines that laws were broken.

The investigation file so far includes reports from the police, statements from witnesses and the athletes, a medical examiner’s report, and material gathered by prosecutors.

Doctors who treated the athletes are also due to give testimony.

Kenteris and Thanou were in hospital for five days with cuts and bruises, after the training partners missed a doping test summons at the Olympic Village and were involved in a motorcycle accident a few hours later.

Doctors at the trauma hospital KAT, where the two athletes were admitted, told investigators that while Kenteris could have been released early, Thanou suffered from two episodes of hypoglycaemia (low blood sugar), which warranted her hospital stay, court sources said.

The two athletes deny taking banned substances and say the accident occurred when they were rushing back to the Olympic Village to be tested.

The crash resulted in prolonging an International Olympic Committee inquiry into whether they evaded the test. Both withdrew from the games on Wednesday, and Thanou apologised to the Greek people for missing the games, while Kenteris sacked Tzekos as his coach.

Greek newspapers have lashed out at the sprinters, claiming the scandal has soured the long-awaited Olympic homecoming.

“The responsibility now rests with the state, which has the obligation to shed light on the case so that it does not become one more episode in the serial of athletic corruption,” the Athens daily Ta Nea wrote.

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