Greece’s athletics federation yesterday opened hearings into doping allegations against the two star sprinters who missed drug tests before the Athens Olympics. Costas Kenteris and Katerina Thanou were forced to pull out of the August 13-29 Games after failing to show up for doping controls on the eve of the opening ceremony and being hospitalized after an alleged motorcycle crash. The pair were suspended temporarily last month by the sport’s world governing body pending a hearing by the Greek federation. They face a ban of up two years if found guilty of evading drug tests. «The principal investigation starts today,» federation chief Vassilis Sevastis said. «We hope this will put an end to the case.» A five-member disciplinary committee has 80 days to conclude the hearings. «The committee has a clear and specific mission… It has to judge if there were any violations of doping regulations,» the committee’s chairman Constantinos Panagopoulos said. He said the panel will examine why Kenteris and Thanou missed tests on August 12 and on two other occasions over an 18-month period before the Olympics. After missing the Athens tests, the sprinters claimed they were injured in a motorcycle accident and spent four days in a hospital. On November 18, a Greek prosecutor charged the pair with faking the accident. Twelve others, including seven doctors, were charged with making false statements. No trial date has been set. The sprinters and coach Christos Tzekos – who all deny wrongdoing – submitted their written defense last month to the International Association of Athletics Federations. The IAAF rejected the explanations and suspended them on December 22. A lawyer representing Kenteris and Thanou said yesterday they will prove their innocence. «We will have the opportunity to present all of our arguments before the disciplinary committee and prove without any doubt that not a single doping regulation was violated by the two Olympic champions,» Michalis Dimitrakopoulos said. Kenteris won the men’s 200 meters at the 2000 Sydney Olympics and Thanou won silver in the women’s 100 meters. The IAAF said Kenteris and Thanou had provided false information on their whereabouts and could not be found for testing in Athens, Chicago and Tel Aviv. The IAAF also accused Tzekos of distributing and assisting in the use of prohibited substances and interfering with the doping test procedure.