NEWS

IAAF probes sprinters

Athletics’ top international body, the IAAF, yesterday ordered an inquiry into the circumstances that led to the withdrawal of Greek sprinters Costas Kenteris and Katerina Thanou from the Athens Olympics. The IAAF’s Doping Review Board inquiry will begin immediately. Aside from the sprinters, the board will also investigate their coach, Christos Tzekos. On August 18, the International Olympic Committee referred the three to the IAAF for further action, including possible sanctions. «The purpose of the inquiry is to establish whether sufficient evidence exists to charge any person with a doping violation or other breach of IAAF rules. If [it] exists, disciplinary proceedings will be initiated in accordance with the standard procedures laid down in IAAF rules,» the IAAF said. Its spokesman, Nick Davies, said the inquiry could last weeks «but hopefully not months.» It was expected to be over by December when the IAAF’s top body is due to convene. Davies said Kenteris and Thanou were free to take part in competitions while the investigation was under way. Under IAAF rules, athletes face sanctions if they register as «no-shows» for three doping tests in 18 months. Kenteris (who last week severed his ties with Tzekos) and Thanou said they were not aware IOC doping inspectors were looking for them on August 12. Earlier this year, they could not be found in Chicago nor, in Kenteris’s case, in Israel. The IAAF investigation will look at information gathered by Greek prosecutors, who are investigating the circumstances of the missed doping test and a mysterious motorcycle accident which resulted in Kenteris and Thanou spending five days in hospital. Yesterday, the Finance Ministry’s fraud squad (SDOE) said Tzekos owned three companies – public, limited and personal. In the public company, Tzekos held 94 percent of the shares, while national weightlifting team coach Christos Iacovou, Kenteris and Thanou had 2 percent each. SDOE is conducting an internal inquiry to find out how the contents of four computer disks confiscated from Tzekos’s warehouse were erased. Greek fans held up the 200-meter final for several minutes last night, chanting Kenteris’s name. Several Greek athletes have voiced support for him and Thanou. A few dozen of Kenteris’s supporters on his home island of Lesvos held a rally in solidarity with him last night.