Clean acquittal for sprinters Thanou and Kenteris

An Athens appeals court on Tuesday unanimously acquitted sprinters Katerina Thanou and Costas Kenteris of charges of faking a motorcycle accident in order to shirk taking a doping test on the eve of the Athens Olympics in August 2004 and lying in court about the incident.

The three-judge panel delivered a verdict of ?innocent due to reasonable doubt,? on an appeal by the Sydney 2000 Olympic gold medalists against a 31-month sentence handed down in May for staging the motorbike accident — a major embarrassment for the host nation.

The court of appeals also acquitted their coach, Christos Tzekos, of perjury charges relating to the crash, though it upheld a conviction over possession and storage of illegal substances, reducing his sentence from 33 months in jail to 12, suspended for three years.

The court?s decision came one day after an Athens prosecutor appealed for the charges against the sprinters be dropped.

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