Accused Greeks granted hearing delay

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The Independent Online

Lawyers representing Kostas Kenteris and Katerina Thanou have succeeded in postponing until Wednesday the IOC disciplinary hearing into their missed drugs tests.

Lawyers representing Kostas Kenteris and Katerina Thanou have succeeded in postponing until Wednesday the IOC disciplinary hearing into their missed drugs tests.

It is the second such delay and means the case will continue to cast its shadow over the Games for at least the next 48 hours, rather than there being a line drawn under the episode today.

The International Olympic Committee had initially been hoping to deal with the issue last Friday.

But they were scuppered because Kenteris and Thanou, who missed a random drugs test at the Games Village the previous night, had suffered injuries in a motorcycle accident just after midnight.

The duo have been in hospital since and their lawyer Michalis Dimitrakapoulos arrived at this morning's three-man disciplinary commission to ask for a further delay in proceedings.

Dimitrakapoulos emerged at 12:15pm local time (10:15am BST) to confirm that his request had been granted.

He had told the commission that the condition of both athletes is improving but that Kenteris is still complaining of headaches and Thanou has got a sore groin.

IOC officials had requested a medical update on the pair, although they ruled out visiting them in hospital to conduct interviews.

Their coach Christos Tzekos arrived at 9am local time this morning and found the inevitable media scrum outside the hotel.

The commission, made up of Ukrainian pole vault legend Sergei Bubka, Athens co-ordination committee chairman Denis Oswald and IOC vice-president Thomas Bach, had been due to make a recommendation to the executive board who were then set to meet later tonight.

Those plans now go on hold for 48 hours.

Kenteris and Thanou have already been suspended by their own association pending the inquiry, which will see them thrown out of the Games completely if it goes against them.

The case has completely overshadowed the first three days of competition at the Olympics and has reinforced the widespread feeling that the competition is littered with cheats.

Kenteris and Thanou were absent when drug testers from the IOC called upon them in Chicago last week and then in the Olympic Village in Athens last Thursday.

Having been temporarily withdrawn from the Games by their own national federation, they now face the prospect of being suspended fully by the IOC, who, under their rules, can ban an athlete if they have had two 'no shows' at drug tests during competition.

"We will have to wait to see what the exact reason was for them not being there for the tests," said an IAAF spokesman.

"Our no-shows are based very much on when we go to test with an element of surprise."

The IAAF revealed yesterday that Kenteris, 31, who won the Olympic 200metres title in Sydney in 2000, also missed an IAAF test last month.

Lamine Diack, President of the IAAF, said: "There was a no-show on July 28 when we tried to test Kenteris in Tel Aviv."

Both athletes have been tested a number of times in the last two years.

In 2003, Kenteris was tested on February 27, April 5 and November 15 and Thanou on February 27 and November 15. Also, they were both tested at least twice in the last three months.

Istvan Gyulai, the general secretary of the IAAF, said those tests were done on dates "based on the whereabouts information which was provided to us".

He added: "So it is not as black as it as it appears. There is co-operation from the Greeks."