IOC bars Thanou from Games

BEIJING (Reuters) – Greek sprinter Katerina Thanou will not be allowed to compete in the Beijing Games after her involvement in a doping scandal four years ago, the International Olympic Committee ruled yesterday. Thanou was caught up in a high-profile doping case with fellow Greek sprinter Costas Kenteris before the 2004 Athens Games. She qualified for Beijing but needed IOC approval to compete. «Upon receiving the recommendations of the IOC’s disciplinary commission, the executive board has declared Miss Thanou ineligible to participate in the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games,» IOC spokeswoman Giselle Davies told reporters. She said the decision was meant «to send a firm signal of the IOC’s moral consideration that this case has brought the Olympic movement very much into disrepute.» Thanou and Kenteris were banned until December 2006 after missing a drugs test on the eve of the Athens Games. Thanou has raced only a handful of times since then but met the Beijing qualifying time and won inclusion in Greece’s Olympic team. The International Olympic Committee, angered that the doping scandal overshadowed the start of the Athens Games, decided to review the Greek decision. Thanou has warned she would take legal action if the IOC barred her from competing in Beijing. «There was a whole string of events that took place in this sorry tale. They really resulted in what the IOC sees as a scandalous saga,» Davies said. She said the IOC’s decision was unanimous. The two sprinters claimed to have crashed their motorcycle after missing the Olympic village doping test and then spent four days in hospital. The athletes, both medal winners at the Sydney 2000 Games and the Greeks’ biggest medal hopes on home soil, were then charged for staging the crash and providing authorities with false information. The start of their trial has been repeatedly postponed and will now take place in early 2009.