Athletics: Greek pair charged over drug tests

The Greek sprinters Kostadinos Kederis and Ekaterina Thanou face possible jail sentences after being charged with avoiding a drug test on the eve of this summer's Olympics and faking a motorcycle accident several hours later.

The Greek sprinters Kostadinos Kederis and Ekaterina Thanou face possible jail sentences after being charged with avoiding a drug test on the eve of this summer's Olympics and faking a motorcycle accident several hours later.

The chief prosecutor, Dimitris Papangelopoulos, announcing the results of a two-month investigation, also issued charges against Christos Tzekos - the athletes' coach in the run-up to the Games - for illegally importing and selling banned substances. Greece's state drug agency seized supplements from Tzekos's office and warehouse in August. The Greek parliament is also looking into the alleged misuse of some €1.5 million (£1m) in government grants to a sports club owned by Tzekos.

Seven doctors at the state-run hospital where Thanou and Kederis were treated after the alleged motorcycle crash were charged with making false statements. Five witnesses who claimed that they saw the accident were charged with the same offence. The charges against the athletes - whose case is not expected to come to trial for at least a year - also cover their alleged absence when international drug-testers looked for them in Tel Aviv, Israel, in late July, and in Chicago on 10 to 11 August.

The International Association of Athletics Federations is scheduled to meet next week to consider the evidence against Kederis and Thanou, who failed to meet testers in the Olympic Village on 12 August. Under IAAF rules, athletes found guilty of three drug-test "no-shows" in an 18-month period are subject to suspensions.

Despite the threat of jail, neither Kederis - chosen as the opening ceremony's final torch-bearer before being replaced after the crash - nor Thanou are likely to end up behind bars. A judicial source said any short jail sentence for the pair, who resumed training last month, could be paid off or suspended.

Kederis, 31, the 200m gold medallist at the Sydney Olympics in 2000, and Thanou, 29, 100m silver medallist at the same Games, have consistently denied any wrongdoing in the wake of an incident which caused both to withdraw from the Olympics on their home soil.

Kederis added that he had had no knowledge that he was required to submit to a test on 12 August, and that he was breaking his links with the man who has guided him to Olympic, world and European titles in the space of the last four years.

"I am no longer going to co-operate with my coach, Christos Tzekos," he said. "I am adamant, I was never notified to go to the Olympic Village to take the test. Over the last four years, I have gone through over 30 tests with no problems. Greek officials and sporting federations are to blame for this case."

* The total cost of the Athens Olympics may exceed €11bn, according to a government report. The original figure had been €9bn. Extra costs include infrastructure projects and other indirect public sector expenditures that were "related but not included" in the Olympic budget.

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