Kenteris, Thanou pull out of Games

Sprinters Costas Kenteris and Katerina Thanou withdrew from the Olympics yesterday, handing over their accreditations at a meeting with the International Olympic Committee’s Disciplinary Commission and ending a saga that had cast a pall over the Athens Games for days. At the hearing, they defended themselves against the charge of willingly evading a doping test on August 12, the day before the opening ceremony, as well as on August 10, when officials had searched for them in Chicago, where they claimed to be training. Their coach, Christos Tzekos, also handed over his accreditation. The voluntary withdrawal halted the IOC sanctions process, as the IOC has no jurisdiction over non-participants at the Games. The case will be referred to the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) «for further action, including possible sanctions» against the two athletes, Tzekos «and all other persons and organizations covered by the rules of the IAAF and who may have contributed to the abovementioned alleged doping violations.» The Disciplinary Commission will submit to the IOC’s Executive Committee a report on whether any officials failed to communicate to Kenteris and Thanou the IOC’s doping control notification. Francois Carrard, the IOC’s director general, hinted that the IOC was prepared to ban the athletes had they not withdrawn. «It is extremely important that they do not take part in these Games,» he told a press conference. Kenteris and Thanou said they had surrendered their passes voluntarily, so that the issue would not dominate news to the detriment of the Games. They both urged Greeks to attend the events. «I have decided to withdraw from the Olympic Games and am announcing the end of my cooperation with Christos Tzekos,» Kenteris announced upon leaving the Athens Hilton Hotel, the IOC’s headquarters. «With the love of the people, I will continue taking part in track-and-field competition… Doping was never discussed during the Commission’s hearings, only procedural matters,» Thanou said, adding that «certain Greek officials» were to blame for the way things turned out. Carrard would not discuss what transpired at the hearing or the way the IOC Executive Committee arrived at its consensus decision, although he alluded to differences among members. According to sources, Kenteris and Thanou, as well as Tzekos and their lawyer Michalis Dimitrakopoulos denied being notified about a doping test on the afternoon of August 12. If the two resume their careers and wish to participate at the Beijing Olympics, they «shall be subject to a new procedure in front of the IOC,» the Executive Committee said in its decision. Later yesterday, there were rumors that Greece’s track-and-field team coach Odysseas Papatolis had submitted his resignation. The Greek athletics federation, SEGAS, however, reportedly did not accept his resignation.

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