Greek Olympian blamed for Albanian doping

A row has broken out between the national weightlifting federations of Greece and Albania following claims over the weekend that the former Greek Olympian and current national squad coach, Leonidas Sabanis, played a role in the doping of three Albanian athletes at last month’s World Championship in Kazakhstan.

Albanian federation president Elez Gjoza has suggested that Sabanis signed a deal to personally coach and supervise world champions Romela Begaj and Daniel Godelli, as well as Hysen Pulaku, all three of whom tested positive for doping in Kazakhstan. “I wonder which country wanted to harm us? I think Greece was jealous of us,” Gjoza told Albanian media.

In response to the allegations, the Greek federation – led by legendary Albanian-born weightlifter Pyrros Dimas – confirmed that the Albanian athletes had trained in Greece for two months but said that they were assigned other official coaches at the championship.

“If they have the documents they claim, they should produce them,” a spokesman for the Greek federation said.

An additional issue is whether there is a case of conflict of interest following the claim that Sabanis – also Albanian-born – had signed a deal with the neighboring country’s federation to coach its national squad while at the same time serving as Greece coach.