Report on sprinters expected

Examining magistrates probing the cases of disgraced Greek sprinters Costas Kenteris and Katerina Thanou, as well as their coach Christos Tzekos, are expected to issue a report today that will determine future legal proceedings against the trio. The athletes, both prime medal contenders at the recent Athens Olympics, had, to an entire nation’s dismay, missed a drug test on the eve of the opening ceremony before eventually withdrawing from the event. Kenteris and Thanou, who, under suspicious circumstances, had both managed to avoid previous drug tests imposed by the IAAF, the international governing body for track and field, blamed their failure to turn up for tests at the Athens Olympics on a motorcycle accident. Over recent days, the two prosecutors probing their case, as well as that of Tzekos, the sprint duo’s coach, have been examining and cross-examining their testimonies, as well as those of witnesses, ahead of their report, expected today. The cases of both athletes concern their failure to be tested which, legally, falls a step short of testing positive for banned performance-enhancing drugs. The situation of Tzekos, their coach, appears to be far more critical. Tests on various items confiscated from a pharmaceuticals firm run by the coach indicated that most contained banned substances. Of 30 items tested, the majority were illegal anabolics or contained various banned substances such as ephedrine, Dimitris Vagionas, the president of EOF, the national pharmaceuticals organization, disclosed yesterday. An EOF report on its findings has already been submitted to the examining magistrates handling the case. Subsequently, Tzekos could also face drug charges beyond the scope of athletics. Meanwhile, a concurrent probe by the examining magistrates on the case of weightlifter Leonidas Sampanis, who won bronze in the Olympics but then lost it after testing positive for high levels of testosterone, is also in progress. Another Olympics-related case being handled by the legal duo is that of American cyclist Tyler Hamilton, who left Athens with gold after scraping through what appeared to be a marred post-competition drug test. Hamilton had tested positive for a banned substance but a follow-up test was nullified after the cyclist’s blood sample was deemed faulty at the laboratory. Hamilton was found doped at a competition not long after the Athens Olympics. An EOF probe into the possible availability of banned substances at sports centers as well as retail outlets selling nutritional supplements proved virtually fruitless. Just one case was reported, at a retail outlet in Thessaloniki. Vagionas, the EOF chief, noted yesterday that the examination was carried out inappropriately, and lacked the element of surprise. «In my opinion, the tests were conducted at a bad time,» Vagionas said. «It’s no surprise that parties involved with the trade of illegal substances hid the commodities knowing that tests were heading their way.»