Kenteris, Thanou to stay in hospital until Sunday

Greek sprinters Costas Kenteris and Katerina Thanou will remain hospitalized until Sunday after suffering injuries in a motorcycle accident hours before an IOC hearing on whether they intentionally dodged drug testers. The accident and accusations involving two of the nation’s biggest sports stars stunned Greeks on the day of the Athens Games’ opening ceremony and left organizers red-faced. Kenteris had been considered a favorite to light the cauldron before a worldwide audience. The torchbearer traditionally remains a mystery until the last moment. Kenteris, the defending Olympic 200-meter champion, and Thanou, the 100-meter silver medalist in Sydney, were not seriously hurt in the accident early yesterday, police said. They were expected to stay in the hospital for two more days, leaving them unable to attend their hearing scheduled for yesterday morning. IOC officials granted a request to postpone the hearing until Monday, when the athletes might be available to attend. «The Games are much stronger than individuals,» IOC President Jacques Rogge said at a news conference. «We have had widely publicized doping cases before, they have not damaged the image of the Games.» The athletes were not present at the hearing. Greek Olympic team leader Yiannis Papadoyiannakis attended on their behalf and asked for the postponement. A statement from KAT hospital said the 31-year-old Kenteris had «cranial trauma,» whiplash and open wounds on his lower leg in the accident. Thanou sustained abdominal bruises, injuries to her right hip and a muscular injury to her right upper leg. They were listed in stable condition. Kenteris, who could not be found for a doping test in the athletes’ village Thursday, is Greece’s best hope for a gold medal in track. They returned to Greece after a training session in Chicago and moved into the Olympic village, where the IOC failed to find them for a drug test. Last year, Kenteris and Thanou missed an out-of-competition drug test They were in Qatar after informing anti-doping officials they would be training on the Greek island of Crete. Neither has tested positive for drugs. IAAF General Secretary Istvan Gyulai said Kenteris passed two out-of-competition tests in the past 10 months, and Thanou passed two tests in the last seven months. Arne Ljungqvist, the IOC medical commission chairman, said the drug testers had tried to find the athletes in Chicago a few days ago but couldn’t. The sprinters had stopped in Germany on their way to the Olympics. Once they were found in Athens, they were told to submit samples but didn’t, said Ljungqvist, also the anti-doping chief of the International Association of Athletics Federations. Christos Tzekos, the sprinters’ coach, said they had their cell phones turned off and didn’t know they were being sought. «They were with me, they took the bike to get there quickly and as you can see, frustration is the worst thing,» Tzekos said. «At the time we were sitting on my balcony, we were in a bad state and under a lot of pressure. .. it doesn’t take a lot for a bad thing to happen.» The IOC’s Anti-Doping Rules for these Games say doping violations include «refusing, or failing without compelling justification, to submit to sample collection after notification.» Such a violation may lead to ineligibility. Any sanction can be appealed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, which has set up a tribunal in Athens. The news dominated headlines and overshadowed the Olympic flame relay as it headed for the stadium. «A Shadow is Cast Over the Big Celebration,» one Athens daily newspaper proclaimed. The front-page headline on another demanded: «Tell Us the Truth.» Kenteris was one of the biggest surprises of the 2000 Sydney Games, winning the 200 to become the first Greek man to win an Olympic medal in a running event since 1896. Kenteris, who also won the world title in 2001, has competed in few international events since his Olympic victory.

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