SPORTS

Sprinters, IAAF strike deal on doping case

BERLIN – Greek sprinters Costas Kenteris and Katerina Thanou and the International Association of Athletics Federations have struck a surprise deal over the infamous doping case stemming from the 2004 Athens Olympics. «A deal was made that puts an end to a complex case,» their lawyer Gregory Ioannidis told Reuters yesterday. «The terms of the agreement are satisfactory to both sides.» The IAAF yesterday withdrew an appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport and said the athletes had accepted they violated anti-doping rules by missing three drug tests prior to the 2004 Athens Olympics. In a statement on its website, the IAAF said the pair would be eligible to compete again on December 22 this year. The IAAF provisionally suspended the two Greeks on December 22, 2004, pending a Greek disciplinary investigation. But once they were cleared by the domestic probe in March last year, the IAAF lodged an appeal with CAS. Matthieu Reeb, CAS secretary-general, told Reuters yesterday: «It was a big surprise to us, totally unexpected. We heard this morning that an agreement had been reached between the parties and the appeal was withdrawn. I can confirm that they have agreed the suspension of two years should end on December 21 so they will be free to compete on December 22. As to whether this is the end of the Kenteris-Thanou case, that is a question to ask the judge in Athens. I don’t know if there are any criminal inquiries still going on but as far as the Court of Arbitration for Sport is concerned, the case is now closed.» The sprint duo’s coach, also involved in the missed doping case and a subsequent motorcycling accident for which they face charges in a Greek court, was banned from athletics for four years. Kenteris, the 200-meter gold medalist at the 2000 Sydney Olympics and Thanou, who won the women’s 100-meter silver medal, withdrew from the Athens Olympics on the eve of the Games in the biggest doping scandal to hit the Games since the Ben Johnson steroids case of 1988. Greek Athletics Federation chief Vassilis Sevastis said he was relieved. «I am delighted to hear of the IAAF’s withdrawal of the appeal,» he said, adding the two sides had agreed to «loyally follow doping rules and battle against doping.» (Additional reporting by Barney Spender in Athens.)