Two-year ban for 11 weightlifters

The 11 Greek weightlifters who had tested positive for a banned substance in March received two-year suspensions yesterday, but this has opened the way for Greece to take part in the Beijing Olympics with a total of four weightlifters. During its meeting in Cali, Colombia, the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) imposed the usual two-year bans on the athletes who were found in out-of-competition checks to have used the steroid methyltrienolone. The athletes were not named. The Greek federation was also sanctioned, the IWF announced. The federation has slashed Greece’s quota of athletes for this summer’s Olympics from five men and three women to three and one respectively, confirming last week’s reports that despite the doping scandal Greek weightlifting will not be absent from the 2008 Games after all. The Greek federation must also pay a 250,000-euro fine. The executive committee of the IWF unanimously rejected the resignation of its Greek general secretary Yiannis Sgouros, who is also general secretary of the Greek weightlifting federation and prefect of Athens. He told the IWF meeting that he had stopped being involved with the Greek federation since 2005 and actually asked for imposition of a harsher penalty on the country’s weightlifting federation. Last month a Greek prosecutor filed misdemeanor charges against the 11 athletes and Christos Iakovou, the former national coach. Iakovou, who has been charged as the man behind the doping of the 11 athletes, now faces a five-year prison term if found guilty. He quit his post when the scandal broke and said he would no longer be involved with the sport. He had in any case intended to exit the sport this summer. The athletes face two-year prison terms. Another 13 people have been charged.