Thanou deserves Marion Jones’s gold, Greek sprinter’s lawyer says

Katerina Thanou’s lawyer said the Greek sprinter deserves to be awarded Marion Jones’s gold medal for the 100 meters in the 2000 Sydney Olympics. Thanou, 32, finished second in Sydney behind Jones, but was at the center of a doping scandal at the Athens Games four years later. Her lawyer, Michalis Dimitrakopoulos, said she should still be considered a worthy winner. «I believe that since [Jones] used banned substances and undeservedly won the race with the use of illegal means, it would be correct for her to lose the gold medal. It should deservedly be awarded to Ms Thanou,» Dimitrakopoulos told The Associated Press over the weekend. He did not make any further comment. Jones could be stripped of her five Olympic medals after publicly admitting on Friday that she had used performance-enhancing drugs. She won all five at the Sydney Olympics. Besides beating Thanou to the finish line in the 100 meters, the US sprinter also won gold medals in the 200 meters and 4×400-meter relay, as well as bronze in the 4×100-meter relay and long jump. Thanou and fellow Greek runner Costas Kenteris, who failed to show up for drug tests on the eve of the Athens games, claimed they were injured in a motorcycle accident and eventually pulled out. Both were later suspended for two years. Thanou and Kenteris returned to competition in February, and were due to be tried in a Greek court last month on perjury charges related to the doping test, but the hearing was postponed until June 19, 2008. On her return to international competition at the European Indoor Athletics Championships in Birmingham, England, earlier this year, Thanou was booed by the crowds before eventually finishing sixth in the final of the 60-meter sprint. She won her heat in 7.26 seconds and reached the event’s final as runner-up in 7.22 seconds, behind Belgian Kim Gevaert, who, echoing the current claims of Thanou’s lawyer, has publically questioned the Greek sprinter’s sportsmanship in the past. «I cannot help thinking that the gold medal should be mine. I don’t think Thanou is clean. She is always hiding,» Gevaert had declared after losing to Thanou in the 2002 European 100-meter final. Despite the rivalry, the Belgian spoke less harshly of Thanou when she returned for the recent European indoors in Birmingham. «I did hear a little bit of booing,» Gevaert told reporters. «I think it’s a bit harsh. I wouldn’t boo her myself because she’s had her punishment. She’s come back and I’m treating her like any other athlete.» (AP/Kathimerini)

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