Doping probe’s scope broadens

The judicial inquiry into doping in Greek athletics intensified yesterday when three US prosecutors investigating an American laboratory accused of distributing illegal performance-enhancing drugs to athletes met with chief Athens prosecutor Dimitris Papangelopoulos. Greek authorities are expected to ask for US assistance in their investigation. Newspapers have reported the Bay Area Laboratory Co-operative (BALCO) had been in touch with Christos Tzekos, coach of Greek sprint stars Costas Kenteris and Katerina Thanou, who were forced to withdraw from the Games. Greek investigators have found banned substances in nutrient additives in a warehouse owned by Tzekos. The political war over the issue turned uglier yesterday when it emerged that Deputy Culture Minister Giorgos Orfanos, in charge of sports, gave prosecutors a file regarding possible responsibility of the previous government in tolerating, encouraging or funding doping. According to Orfanos’s «initial estimate,» a total of 1.45 million euros had been given to a sports body run by Tzekos, government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos said. Orfanos’s predecessor in the previous government, Giorgos Lianis, answered that during his term 181,952 euros had gone to Tzekos, legally. Prosecutor Papangelopoulos has ordered an inquiry into whether Greece’s anti-doping law was broken by anyone with regard to Kenteris and Thanou missing a doping test on the eve of the Olympics. The inquiry also concerns an alleged motorcycle accident after which the sprinters were hospitalized for five days. Yesterday, two prosecutors visited the KAT hospital and took the two athletes’ medical files and medical communiques issued during their treatment. Police and judicial sources have suggested the crash was staged.

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