NEWS

Thanou being ‘shut out’ of Games

Almost four years after she was thrown out of the Athens Olympics, sprinter Katerina Thanou spoke out against the International Olympic Committee (IOC) yesterday and accused officials of trying to hound her out of the Beijing Games that start later this month. Thanou has qualified for the Olympics, which start on August 8, but she was informed late on Thursday that an IOC hearing which will decide whether she can take part will be held on August 7. The 33-year-old 100-meter sprinter was barred from the Athens Olympics after missing a doping test on the eve of the Games when she was involved in an alleged motorcycle accident with her training partner and fellow sprinter Costas Kenteris. Thanou served a two-year ban but believes that she is being made a scapegoat. «Four years ago I was obliged to hand in my accreditation after many threats and lots of pressure,» said Thanou. «This was a disastrous move that deprived me of my chance to compete in the Olympics and the chance to win a gold medal. «Four years later, the same thing is happening again. There is no official charge against me, so why am I being asked if I want to take part in the Olympics even though I have qualified under the rules? «I was maligned and my career was damaged. This is still going on. I think enough is enough.» Yesterday was the first time that Thanou has spoken publicly since the incident before the Athens Olympics. Her lawyer, Gregory Ioannidis, said that the IOC had still not explained why it might bar Thanou from running in Beijing and that it had requested the file on the criminal case surrounding the alleged motorcycle accident in Athens four years ago. The case is not due to be heard until next year. «Legally, this is totally ridiculous,» said Ioannidis. «We have answered the letter in a written statement explaining that there are no legal grounds to prevent her from participating. Of course we are awaiting their answer.» Ioannidis also said that they sent a letter to the IOC asking why Thanou was being singled out.