IAAF slaps temporary ban on sprinters pending Greek ruling

Disgraced former sprint stars Costas Kenteris and Katerina Thanou were yesterday banned by international athletics officials from taking part in any competition, pending a ruling by Greek sports authorities on charges that the two runners dodged doping tests ahead of the Athens Olympics. The International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) said it had considered the written explanations provided by the two Sydney Olympic medalists – and by their coach at the time, Christos Tzekos – in response to doping charges it filed against them on December 2. «In each case, the IAAF has concluded that the explanation provided is unacceptable in response to the charges made,» an IAAF statement said. «Accordingly, the IAAF has notified the Greek Federation (SEGAS) earlier this afternoon that both the athletes and coach are provisionally suspended pending the resolution of their cases.» The runners already face charges – brought on November 18 – for allegedly faking a motorcycle crash on August 12, the eve of the Olympics opening ceremony, to dodge a doping test at the Olympic Village. Both subsequently withdrew from the Games. They claim to be blameless. Tzekos, whom Kenteris dropped after the Games, was also charged with distributing banned substances and tampering with the doping control process. Prosecutors also formally accused five people who claimed to have seen the supposed motorcycle crash, and seven doctors at the Athens KAT Hospital who maintained that the athletes required hospital treatment for their alleged injuries. In addition to the Athens incident, the IAAF has charged the runners with failing to attend tests in Tel Aviv and Chicago. If SEGAS finds against them, it can impose a maximum two-year ban. Any decision can be appealed at the Lausanne-based Court of Arbitration for Sport.