NEWS

Another case of doping rocks Greece

No sooner had Greeks got over the shock of their top sprinters withdrawing from the Games in disgrace after failing to undergo mandatory doping control tests than they were rocked by the news that the first winner of a medal for Greece had been found to have an unacceptable level of an illegal substance in his body. If a second test confirms that weightlifter Leonidas Sampanis had taken testosterone, then he will have to give back the bronze medal he won last Monday. The government, furious at the way in which doping has cast a cloud over the Games, declared that it will punish anyone involved in the use of illegal substances. A source said that this could lead to athletes being stripped of honors and benefits. Sampanis, who won silver medals in the Atlanta and Sydney Games, is a major in the air force. Olympic medalists are commissioned into the Greek armed forces. Sampanis, competing in the 62kg category, gave Greece its first joy on Monday after sprinters Costas Kenteris and Katerina Thanou withdrew from the Olympics on Wednesday. Yesterday’s news cast a shadow over Greece’s weightlifting team, which has been very strong in recent years and which was expected to bring in a number of the 15-20 medals that Greek officials had hoped for before the Games. «I am stunned. I am going mad. We do not, and I stress this, do not give our athletes testosterone,» coach Christos Iacovou told Athens’s Alter television station. «I don’t know what’s happened. I’ve been doing this work for so many years and I watch over my athletes constantly,» Reuters reported him telling the station. Greece’s Olympic Committee announced that the IOC medical commission visited the head of the Greek delegation and gave him the results «of the first sample from an athlete of the Olympic team, which had tested positive.» It said that the athlete’s representative and his federation had asked for a second sample to be tested. The announcement did not name the athlete nor the substance. Reports last night said the Greek delegation’s chief, Yiannis Papadoyiannakis, had resigned.