Olympic boxer, already in Beijing, fails doping test

More bad news for Greek sports as the country’s boxing federation announced yesterday that one of its athletes who is already in Beijing preparing for the Olympic Games has tested positive for a banned substance. The federation issued a statement saying it had been notified yesterday – by the Greek anti-doping agency ESKAN – that the first sample from a member of the Olympic team was positive. It added that it would not reveal the name of the athlete before the second sample has also been checked. This will happen within the next few days. Greece had managed to send three boxers to the Olympic Games: Giorgos Gazis (75 kilograms), Tassos Berdesis (81 kg) and Ilias Pavlidis (91 kg). Berdesis actually won the right to go to the Olympic Games because a Ukrainian boxer who had finished ahead of him had tested positive for a banned substance and the international boxing association (AIBA) had disqualified him. This comes in an Olympic year that has seen positive doping tests for 11 Greek weightlifters, a top swimmer, a track athlete, a rower and others, resulting in a considerable decrease in the country’s interest in the Games that start in less than a month. The Hellenic Olympic Committee has said it will test all athletes on the Olympic team at least twice before traveling to Beijing. Later yesterday it became known that 24-year-old swimming champion Maria Demertzi had also failed a doping test.