NEWS

Coach denies doping Greek weightlifters

Suspended national weightlifting coach Christos Iakovou yesterday protested his innocence, insisting that he did not knowingly give 11 weightlifters banned substances. Iakovou appeared before a Greek Weightlifting Federation disciplinary committee as part of an investigation into how 11 of the 13 members of the national team failed doping tests in March. Sources said Iakovou submitted a written statement insisting he did not give the weightlifters any substances without the federation’s approval. He blamed the Chinese company that allegedly supplied what he thought were approved food supplements for the mix-up. Iakovou said he was also prepared to face questioning as part of the judicial investigation. «Whatever I have to say, I will tell the court when I am called to give evidence,» he said. «My father taught me to love sports, ancient Greece and to always tell the truth. That’s what I did today: I told the truth.» Iakovou’s lawyer has claimed the Chinese firm has already accepted responsibility for sending tainted food supplements. A Larissa-based food supplement importer, Panayiotis Katselos, backed this version of the story. He claimed yesterday that Iakovou asked him to source some amino acids. Katselos said he ordered the supplements from a Chinese firm over the Internet. However, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu cast doubt on the claims that a local company had been to blame. «According to our initial understanding, the true situation is not compatible with the foreign media reports,» Jiang said. Chinese authorities, however, were continuing investigations and were «willing to cooperate with Greece to get to the truth of the situation,» Jiang added. Meanwhile, Asterios Deliyiannis, vice president of the Greek anti-doping organization (ESKAN), tendered his resignation yesterday at the request of Culture Minister Michalis Liapis. Deliyiannis had suggested this week that a number of other athletes had failed drugs tests and that their names would be revealed at a press conference. Deliyiannis was deemed to have ignored protocol, which requires the relevant federations to be notified first. He also suggested some Greek cyclists had tested positive for drugs, but this was denied yesterday by ESKAN president Pavlos Papadopoulos. Liapis meanwhile met again with a panel that has been formed in the wake of the scandal, which has the task of coming up with ways of tackling doping in sport by April 23.