Greek sprinters withdraw from Athens Games

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The Independent Online

The Greek sprinters Konstadinos Kederis and Katerina Thanou today withdrew from the Olympics, nearly a week after the duo missed a drug test and were hospitalized after a mysterious motorcycle crash.

The Greek sprinters Konstadinos Kederis and Katerina Thanou today withdrew from the Olympics, nearly a week after the duo missed a drug test and were hospitalized after a mysterious motorcycle crash.

"I'm withdrawing from the Olympics," Kederis said after meeting with the International Olympic Committee. "I am terminating my collaboration with my coach Christos Tsekos."

Kederis, the reigning 200-meter Olympic champion, is the country's most celebrated athlete and was Greece's best hope for gold in track at the Athens Games. He had been considered a leading candidate to light the Olympic cauldron during the opening ceremony.

"I declared all the facts of my case which state that I am innocent," he said. "I was never informed that I had to attend a doping test at the Olympic Village."

Thanou was the 100-meter silver medalist in Sydney four years ago.

"I came here today before the IOC committee to submit my facts. Some Greeks in the last few days have accused me of taking banned substances, but according to the IOC, there is no such issue," Thanou said. "The people who are accusing me are the ones who stood by me for photos after my victories; others don't even know me.

"I handed my accreditation back to the IOC today. It's a very hard thing for an athlete to withdraw from the Olympic Games, especially when they're in their homeland."

Both sprinters spent about an hour behind closed doors and emerged to a mob of reporters and television cameras.

The IOC disciplinary committee has been looking into why the two athletes missed drug tests in the Olympic village last Thursday.

A few hours later, they were taken to a hospital with cuts and bruises suffered when their motorcycle skidded on a road.

The IOC's disciplinary committee twice postponed hearings while the sprinters remained in the hospital, giving them a chance to defend themselves in person.

Neither sprinter showed any signs of injury from the crash that kept them in a hospital for five days.

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