NEWS

Greece to target doping cheats

Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis pledged yesterday to tighten the country’s anti-doping laws in a bid to stamp out illegal substance abuse among athletes. »A special committee was formed… to consider more stringent administrative and criminal sanctions against those who use, provide and market banned substances,» Karamanlis told Parliament. «Regarding the use of banned substances, we have a tough stance.» The prime minister said also that the Greek state would «drastically» revise the benefits granted to successful athletes. Greek athletes that finish in the Olympics’ top eight in any event are currently entitled to generous cash payments and posts in the police and armed forces. Meanwhile, an Athens prosecutor has requested more information on the samples given by the 11 athletes found to have failed their doping tests. The prosecutor is seeking the information from a laboratory in Cologne, Germany, to determine how many illegal substances the athletes had taken. Former national weightlifting coach Christos Iakovou has resigned since the first samples from the unnamed athletes tested positive. The Greek weightlifting federation accepted his resignation last week. The coach has blamed a Chinese drugs manufacturer for the controversy, claiming that a batch of vitamins tainted with steroids was sent to Greece by mistake and given to the athletes.