NEWS

IOC presses on doping probe

In an unprecedented move, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) yesterday handed over to Greek prosecutors the information it has collected on disgraced Greek hurdler Fani Halkia, who failed a doping test days before she was due to take part in the Beijing Olympics last week. Two legal representatives of the IOC, lawyers Alexandros Lykourezos and Petros Machas, delivered Halkia’s file to the prosecutor’s office in Athens, thereby effectively forcing authorities to investigate the case. The information is likely to be passed on to prosecutor Constantinos Simitzoglou, who was asked on Tuesday to look into whether Halkia and sprinter Tassos Gousis have broken Greece’s doping laws. The role of Halkia’s coach, Giorgos Panayiotopoulos, and Gousis’s trainer, Theodoros Gatzios, will also be examined by the prosecutor. Both athletes tested positive for the powerful steroid methyltrienolone. Another 13 Greek sportsmen and women have been caught taking the same substance. «It is the first time that the IOC has taken the decision to turn to justice over unsporting and illegal behavior,» said Machas. «There are specific reasons that have led to this action, since the substance is really deadly and there is a large number of athletes that have been caught using it.» Sources said that the IOC may take legal action of its own against Halkia and Gousis. Panayiotopoulos could also face prosecution. «The file that we have submitted has to do with Halkia. In the IOC’s decision, the name of her coach is also mentioned. We will see how the suit is drawn up,» said Lykourezos. Halkia and her coach are set to be called in for questioning by Simitzoglou next week. In an interview with a local newspaper in her native Larissa, central Greece, Halkia insisted that her conscience was clear and that she was «sleeping well at night.»