Athlete moves questioned

The Greek athletics federation (SEGAS) ordered sprint team coach Christos Tzekos to explain the whereabouts of Olympic 200-meter champion Costas Kenteris and training partner Katerina Thanou yesterday. The call came after Tzekos, Kenteris and Olympic 100-meter silver medalist Thanou were seen in Qatar after telling SEGAS they were training in Crete. Under the rules of the sport’s governing body, the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), athletes must give current information of their whereabouts to enable out-of-competition drug testing. The IAAF said the incident was embarrassing for SEGAS and that their anti-doping department would be speaking to Greek officials over the incident. «We will be looking into this,» said the IAAF’s communications director, Nick Davis. According to SEGAS, Tzekos had declared that Kenteris, the world 200-meter champion, and European 100-meter winner Thanou would be in Hania, Crete during March and April. «The change of training base was done on their (Tzekos’s) initiative without the knowledge of the board of SEGAS or its president,» the Greek federation noted in a statement. In a telephone interview with Reuters, Tzekos confirmed he had relocated his athletes but denied doing so to avoid dope tests. «If I went somewhere with my girlfriend do I have to inform everybody? I just went somewhere for a few days and to have fun,» Tzekos said. «They want to crucify me and I don’t know why,» he added. Tzekos said that both Kenteris and Thanou underwent dope tests three times in the last 12 months. SEGAS was forced to admit on Monday that it did not know the athletes’ whereabouts until after an interview was published in the Saturday edition of the Qatar newspaper Alragia, titled, «Greek Athletes Training in (the Qatar capital of) Doha.» The head coach of Greece’s Olympic team, Odysseas Papatollis, said it had been Tzekos’s decision to relocate his athletes without telling anyone. «He told us that he was going to Hania and then a week later went to Qatar without asking leave of anyone,» he said. SEGAS faced questions over its cooperation in doping controls from the IAAF last November after the general secretary, Istvan Gyulai, complained that Greek athletes were not being made available for out-of-competition testing. SEGAS denied withholding competitors and said in a statement at the time: «We were surprised to hear that inspectors had come to Greece three times recently, asked Greek athletes to take tests and found very few athletes abiding. It is certain that if there were violations as reported, the IAAF has nothing further to do than to punish us.» Last summer, Kenteris became the first track athlete to have won successive Olympic, World and European titles in the same event after being crowned European champion with a 19.85-second performance, a new national record. (Reuters)