Ex-athlete denies drug claims

Recently retired high jumper Lambros Papacostas, one of the national team’s leading members during his days in competition, stands to lose his post as a leading official at SEGAS, Greece’s track and field federation, if a local newspaper report claiming Papacostas was charged with drug use in Sweden last summer is confirmed to be true. Greek daily To Vima ran a story yesterday claiming that the 37-year-old Papacostas, who retired from competition in 2004 with his long national record still intact, tested positive as having used cocaine at a party in Gothenburg, Sweden last summer, while he was in the city for the European Championships. Papacostas, the newspaper report said, was released on bail after being given a 30-day sentence. The article was accompanied by a photocopy of a document indicating that Papacostas had paid such a fine. The former athlete denied having used narcotics but said he had been tested. The published document indicating his payment to the Swedish state, Papacostas argued, concerned a fee covering the cost of the test. «As was requested by the police officers, I paid an amount to cover the test’s expenses because they told me this is how the Swedish state functions,» Papacostas said. Responding to the news, SEGAS said that until yesterday it had not received either official or unofficial confirmation of the newspaper report. The federation noted, however, that it «cannot – and does not desire to – be affiliated in any way with anybody proven to have succumbed to such illegal behavior.» Following his retirement from competition, Papacostas was appointed head coordinator at SEGAS. The former athlete, who set a 2.36-meter national record in Athens back in 1992 that remains unbroken, won two silver medals at the World Indoor Championships in 1995 and 1997. He emerged as a promising athlete winning second place at the 1988 World Junior Championships in Ontario, Canada.