NEWS

IOC hearing tomorrow

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) yesterday announced that it had given Greek sprint stars Costas Kenteris and Katerina Thanou until tomorrow to appear before its disciplinary commission investigating their alleged violation of the IOC’s anti-doping rules. The Olympic men’s 200-meter champion and the women’s 100-meter silver medalist are expected to leave the KAT Hospital today after undergoing treatment for minor injuries sustained in a purported motorcycle crash on Thursday night, hours after the IOC began trying to test them for use of performance-enhancing substances. Athens’s chief prosecutor, Dimitris Papangelopoulos, yesterday ordered an urgent preliminary inquiry into the circumstances of Kenteris’s and Thanou’s avoidance of an IOC doping test and the subsequent accident. Coroner Philippos Koutsaftis examined the two in the hospital yesterday – and officers from Glyfada, the suburb where the crash is said to have taken place, took statements from Kenteris and Thanou. No accident was reported on Thursday. Kenteris and Thanou were summoned to appear before the IOC disciplinary commission yesterday. But on Sunday a communique signed by several senior doctors of the KAT Hospital said that they needed to undergo more medical tests yesterday. Their lawyer, Michalis Dimitrakopoulos, and coach Christos Tzekos, attended the hearing and assured the IOC that the two would attend in person if it were postponed till tomorrow. «The disciplinary commission’s decision was made to ensure a fair process and give due consideration to the athletes,» the IOC announced. The IOC’s director general, Francois Carrard, said that the IOC could not question a statement by doctors. He said the investigation concerned the sprinters’ failure to appear for a doping test, noting that by now any illegal substance would not be detectable. Prosecutor Papangelopoulos is expected to announce in the next few days whether charges will be filed. Jail terms of up to two years are possible if any athlete or coach is found to have violated anti-doping legislation. The IOC probe could lead to the athletes’ suspension. «Even on crutches, Kenteris and Thanou will appear before the panel. They will fight and prove that they are clean,» lawyer Dimitrakopoulos told reporters yesterday. In his first published comments, Kenteris also stressed his innocence. «It pains my soul that I am subject to such hostility and slander,» he told the Goal News sports paper. «The truth is one and incontestable. I was never informed by anyone,» he added, regarding the IOC’s efforts to test him. «I will fight to the last drop of my blood to defend myself.»