Discredited heroes of Greece 'missed previous drug tests'

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The Independent Online

There were suggestions yesterday that Konstadinos Kederis and Ekaterini Thanou, who face expulsion from the Olympics after allegedly missing two dope-testing appointments, have recently dodged the testers on at least two other occasions.

There were suggestions yesterday that Konstadinos Kederis and Ekaterini Thanou, who face expulsion from the Olympics after allegedly missing two dope-testing appointments, have recently dodged the testers on at least two other occasions.

Greece's two most celebrated athletes were said to have absented themselves from an out-of-competition test in Tel Aviv on 28 July before the Olympic period began, and to have failed to meet testers on not one, but two occasions in Chicago, on 10 and 11 August, as well as on 13 August, when they were absent without notice from the Olympic Village.

Kederis and Thanou will be expelled from the Games if the International Olympic Committee's disciplinary commission confirms they have been guilty of evading testers twice since the Games got officially under way with the opening of the Olympic Village on 30 July.

Last night, however, it was reported that the athletes had once again postponed facing the commission on medical grounds. A doctor from the north Athens hospital where the pair have been since their reported motorbike accident in the early hours of Friday morning said: "The athletes need to undergo a fuller examination."

It was not clear whether the hearing at the Hilton Hotel, originally intended for Friday, would go ahead, although a source from the International Olympic Committee (IOC) said that if medical certificates were produced again today, as they were three days ago, then the pair would be given more time.

Kederis and Thanou were offered a flickering hope of taking part in the Games of which they were supposed to be a centrepiece by their national Olympic committee's decision on Saturday to suspend them pending today's hearing rather than withdrawing them from the Games. The committee's decision was by 5-1, although the president, Lambis Nikolau, voted for the athletes to be withdrawn from the Olympics.

When the sprinters finally face the reckoning there seems little doubt that the IOC will take a firm line. But should they be allowed to remain in the Games, there is likely to be a huge adverse reaction. Already, Swedish athletes have threatened to walk out of the Olympic Village if Kederis and Thanou - who won 200m gold and 100m silver respectively at the Sydney Games - are allowed to compete.

There has also been a strong backlash against the pair within the Greek media. The Sportime daily sports paper ran the word "Guilty" as its front-page headline in red, adding that the Greek Olympic Committee's decision to suspend the duo for 48 hours was "comical". An editorial maintained that the pair should be punished without fail.

Arne Ljungqvist, the IOC medical commission chairman, said that drug testers had tried without success to find Kederis and Thanou last week in Chicago, where they had been training with their coach, Christos Tzekos. An IAAF spokesman said the group had changed plans and travelled to Essen, Germany, to see a doctor.

Testers then failed to locate the athletes soon after their arrival at the Olympic Village. Kederis and Thanou were reported to have left to gather some "personal effects".

Some hours later they claimed they were on their way back to the Village from Tzekos's house in the Athens suburb of Glyfada, riding their coach's motorbike, when they crashed and required extended medical treatment, which forced them to postpone their summons to the IOC disciplinary commission on Friday.

Among the details of the incident being checked by the police is the pair's initial statement that an unidentified man happened by the crash and drove them 18 miles to the hospital. Investigators have failed to find the driver, and officers who canvassed the neighbourhood were unable to locate witnesses who saw or heard the crash.

The pair might find themselves facing charges in a local court today. A senior judge will rule whether they have committed traffic offences such as riding a motorbike without helmets or without a licence.

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