NEWS

Kenteris ‘did not know’

After protesting repeatedly that he had never taken illegal performance-enhancing substances, Greece’s top sprinter, Costas Kenteris, appears to have told prosecutors that if he did use such substances he was the unwitting victim of his former coach. «Christos Tzekos gave us tonics and vitamins. We had absolute confidence in him. If I took illegal substances I did not know it. I did not act out of guile, nor did I have bad intentions,» Kenteris reportedly said during his testimony on Monday, referring to himself and training partner Katerina Thanou. Meanwhile, the government yesterday proposed an inter-party commission to investigate the issue. The Finance Ministry police (SDOE) began an inquiry into neighborhood gymnasiums, following parents’ complaints that their children were being plied with illegal substances. Judicial sources yesterday leaked some of the testimony that Kenteris gave prosecutors Spyros Mouzakitis and Athina Theodoropoulou on Monday. Kenteris, winner of the 200-meter gold in Sydney, and Thanou (who won silver in the 100-meter dash), were forced to withdraw from the Olympics after missing an IOC doping test on August 12. Kenteris reportedly stressed that the motorcycle crash in which he and Thanou claimed they were hurt that night did take place, despite serious doubts by police and judicial officials. The «crash» allowed the two sprinters to spend five days in a hospital, negating the possibility of a doping test. «Everyone must believe that the accident took place. We were going quite fast but it is was probably caused by a rough patch in the road – or water or oil,» Kenteris reportedly said. Asked why he and Thanou took a motorcycle to return to the Olympic Village when learning that IOC officials were looking for them, he replied, «I would have taken a helicopter to get there.» Kenteris reportedly blamed his coach, Christos Tzekos, with whom he has since severed ties, for not telling him and Thanou until 10.30 p.m. on August 12 that IOC testers were looking for them. That was when they saw on television the «unrealistic proportions» the story had taken, Kenteris said. Kenteris said that no officials at the Olympic Village had told him and Thanou earlier that they were being sought. Track’s top international body, the IAAF, is investigating whether Kenteris and Thanou violated anti-doping rules by missing tests.