Spat over Kenteris’s no-show

Costas Kenteris’s injury and withdrawal from the 200 meters at the World Athletics Championships gave rise to acrimony between Greek track-and-field officials and coaches on Tuesday and yesterday, although they later hastened to patch up their differences. Vassilis Sevastis, the president of the Greek athletics federation, was angry with coaches for not informing him of Kenteris’s injury, tendonitis in his inner thigh, despite the fact that it had cropped up at least 10 days before the start of the championships. Kenteris’s coach, Christos Tzekos, countered that the injury was slight and that Kenteris had worked out regularly despite it. However, it was finally decided that Kenteris could not run four races at full speed and that it was better to pull him out. In his initial reactions, Sevastis, who has been feuding openly with Tzekos, said that he and his athletes, who include Greece’s top female sprinter, Katerina Thanou, work as an independent group. He did not take it further, but there were dark hints in the press about how Tzekos supposedly hides his athletes from regular doping tests conducted by international sports officials. These accusations stem from an incident in Germany, back in 1997, when Tzekos reportedly physically prevented officials from conducting a surprise sampling test while his athletes fled. Today, it was mainly damage limitation day. Sevastis told Kathimerini that on this specific matter, Mr Tzekos is not to blame, shifting the blame to national team head coach Odysseas Papatolis and the head of delegation, Yiannis Stamatopoulos, who had learned of the problem last Sunday. «Unfortunately, it was all leaked on Monday night. I assume responsibility. I showed my inexperience. It may have been better if we had announced it,» Stamatopoulos said, eagerly assuming the role of the fall guy. Both Sevastis and Sports Minister Giorgos Lianis said that Kenteris had volunteered to take a doping test to put an end to rumors that he had not showed up because he was not clean. Kenteris has been tested six times over the last three months for illegal substances.

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