Greek athletes protest at rumors concerning Kenteris

Greek athletes taking part in the World Athletics Championships rallied around fellow-athlete Costas Kenteris yesterday in response to rumors that his withdrawal from the 200-meter race was due not to injury but was connected with doping. «We are sorry to find ourselves in the unenviable position of dealing with issues other than the Greek team’s great successes in Paris. The unethical and vulgar stories by a fraction of the press, concerning the injury of our Gold Olympian Costas Kenteris, can only cause indignation. This attack against an athlete who has honored Greece raises questions about their motives and can only be malicious. All the members of the Greek team in Paris want to emphasize that any unprovoked, vile attack against Kenteris, or any of our fellow athletes, will find us on the opposite side, completely united. We wish Costas Kenteris a quick recovery to his injury and a successful completion of his goals, above all, in the 2004 Olympics. We will all be there,» the statement, which was also signed by the team’s coach and doctor and a member of the executive of Greece’s track and field federation, said. Kenteris, who has tendonitis in an inner thigh muscle was examined by a doctor in Germany. He was told to engage in some therapy and come back for a re-examination in 15 days’ time. The injury is not considered serious, but team coaches and Kenteris’s own coach, Christos Tzekos, decided not to risk Kenteris’s aggravating the injury. He would have to run four races at the Championships, including the event’s final. Kenteris’s story apart, yesterday was a day of qualification series for four women athletes, two in the javelin throw and another two in the long jump. In the end, only Mirella Manjani, the reigning European champion, got through in the javelin. Her only throw, at 62.48 meters, was way over the qualifying distance of 60 meters, which only seven other athletes reached. The other Greek athlete, Angeliki Tsiolakoudi, threw a season-best 56.66 meters but that was not enough. In the long jump, Niki Xanthou and Stella Pilatou disappointed, jumping 6.37 and 6.21 meters, respectively. Today, two men have the chance of doing well in their event. Louis Tsatoumas, in the long jump, has one of the year’s best leaps (8.34 meters). In the 400-meter hurdles final – which is to be held tonight and not last night, as we mistakenly reported in yesterday’s edition – Pericles Iakovakis will challenge for a medal, after his impressive qualification Wednesday.

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