New doping scandal shocks Greek athletics

The shocking revelation that 2004 Olympic walking gold medalist Athanassia Tsoumeleka has tested positive for a banned substance has sent fresh shock waves through the Greek track and field world. The sample that Tsoumeleka had provided on August 6, two days before the start of the Beijing Olympics last summer, had tested negative in an initial examination. However, after four cyclists in France were found to have used an advanced form of erythropoietin (EPO), known as CERA, all samples from the Beijing Olympics were re-examined and Tsoumeleka’s tested positive. Tsoumeleka herself broke the news on Saturday, saying, «I will not start justifying myself, although I have never knowingly used this substance and have accepted that I am absolutely responsible for whatever is in my sample in order to compete.» She added that she is not going to ask that the second sample be re-examined and that she is abandoning the sport in its competitive version. Her husband, Nikos Dimitriadis, quit his post as the national coach for long-distance track and field, which has added another headache for track and field federation SEGAS. President of SEGAS Vassilis Sevastis told Kathimerini that «unless the second sample is tested, we cannot comment on this story. But I wish to point out in general that athletes have to realize that it is only themselves who can put an end to this problem. I am calling on them to go as far as they can in order not to test positive, by not taking any drugs, knowingly or not. They have to understand that they are targeted more than foreign athletes and should not risk tarnishing themselves or Greek sport in general.»

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