Doping saga may involve politics

The ongoing legal saga generated by the failure of disgraced star sprinters Costas Kenteris and Katerina Thanou to undergo drug tests on the eve of the Athens Olympics appears likely to spill over into the country’s political arena. Two examining magistrates probing the athletes’ cases, and the role of their coach, Christos Tzekos, have advised chief public prosecutor Dimitris Papangelopoulos to order a parliamentary session on a sports club run by Tzekos which is believed to have received dubious state funding. It is suspected that the club, Aias, may have been founded as a front to draw public funds. If so, political figures may also be entangled. The club still exists as a depleted sports facility, but Tzekos, who held a key position, says it has offered valuable training to budding young athletes. Just days ago, it was revealed that scientific tests conducted on various items confiscated from a pharmaceuticals firm run by Tzekos indicated that the majority of products contained illegal anabolics and other banned substances. These findings, having already been submitted by the national pharmaceuticals organization (EOF) to the examining magistrates, could implicate Tzekos in drug charges beyond the scope of athletics. The two examining magistrates probing the cases of Kenteris, Thanou, and Tzekos handed a report of their findings to Papangelopoulos, the chief public prosecutor, last Friday. He is expected, over the next few days, to determine the case’s future legal proceedings. 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. Kenteris and Thanou blamed their absences from the pre-competition drug tests on a motorcycle accident. Besides the athletes and Tzekos, also being investigated are the roles played by 11 doctors at the KAT hospital, where the sprinters were hospitalized for several days following the alleged accident. The doctors could be charged with issuing false medical reports. Meanwhile, a sports journalist whose more recent newspaper and radio reports, on a range of controversial issues, have included coverage of the doping scandals within the Greek Olympics team, was mugged in Athens yesterday following his radio show. Soon after exiting the building at Sport FM in the Kallithea district, the journalist, Philippos Syrigos, was attacked by two men wielding iron bars and at least one knife. The victim, who was rushed to hospital with serious head wounds, as well as knife wounds to his body, is believed to be in stable condition. Besides the doping scandal, other reports by Syrigos include the Olympiakos soccer club’s new Karaiskaki Stadium, and the role of the club’s president, entrepreneur Socrates Kokkalis, in its development. Kokkalis struck a 49-year lease deal with the previous government for the newly constructed stadium, with the condition that it be delivered on time for the Athens Olympics.