Kederis' missed test threatens to wreck Greece's greatest day

Greece is facing massive embarrassment at tonight's Athens Games opening ceremony as its two most celebrated athletes, Olympic 200m champion Konstadinos Kederis and the Olympic 100m silver medallist Ekaterina Thanou, face possible two-year suspensions after failing to report for doping tests.

Greece's two most celebrated athletes, Olympic 200m champion Konstadinos Kederis and the Olympic 100m silver medallist Ekaterina Thanou, face possible two-year suspensions after failing to report for doping tests.

Olympic and Greek officials confirmed that both athletes had missed scheduled tests because team managers had allowed them to leave the Olympic village yesterday evening.

In a further twist to what was already an astonishing turn of events, it was later reported that Kederis and Thanou had been involved in a motorbike accident and were taken to hospital.

They failed to attend today's formal hearing for missing the mandatory test because they were being kept in hospital. Olympic officials then gave them 72 hours to appear and explain what happened.

A senior Olympic official who refused to be named commented: "To me it's absolutely stupid. If he didn't turn up he's a fool and he deserves to be out."

But Istvan Gyulai, secretary general of the International Association of Athletics Federations, said:"According to our information the Greek team leader was informed but not the athletes. To our mind this doesn't constitute refusal."

Elite athletes are obliged to alert authorities of their whereabouts at all times to allow random drugs tests to take place. The Greek authorities have appealed to the International Olympic Committee to give their two athletes more time.

The IOC president Jacques Rogge summoned Kederis and Thanou to a disciplinary hearing today. "I have called for a discplinary hearing," Rogge said. "Process has started rolling."

An official Games statement confirmed that an IOC doping representative had arrived at the office of the Greeks' chef de mission, John Papadogiannakis, at 6.15pm and stated that he was looking for the two athletes in order to take sample collections, but "he did not find the athletes in their rooms".

The chef de mission then reportedly searched for the athletes and was told that they had left the Olympic Village in order to collect some of their personal belongings from their homes.

Team officials stressed that the athletes were coming back and asked for a few hours extension in order to return to the Olympic Village and submit themselves to doping control.

The recent case of Rio Ferdinand, who was suspended for eight months after failing to turn up to a scheduled test after a Manchester United training session, pointed up the fact that failure to attend a test is deemed equivalent to failing one as far as International Olympic Committee rules are concerned.

Kederis, recently voted as Greece's favourite citizen, has earned celebrity status for his achievements since astonishing the world by becoming the first Greek to win an Olympic title since 1912, just six months after finishing out of the medals in the European Indoor Championships.

A year later he won world 200m gold in Edmonton, then became the first to win all three leading titles with victory in the 2002 European Championships.

But the 31-year-old's startling success towards the end of his career has aroused suspicions, as he and his fellow Greek competitors have been accused of hiding themselves away from competing in meetings on the European circuit.

Kederis has only raced twice this season, once in Greece and once in Bulgaria as part of a Greek European Cup team.

His Olympic victory in 2000, where he carried the Greek flag in the Opening Ceremony, prompted the Sydney Morning Herald to ask the following morning: "Who the Hellas is Kostas Kenteris?"

Kederis has been coached since 2000 by Hristos Tzekos, who was involved in an incident seven years ago in which a doping control officer was reported to have been manhandled after arriving unannounced at a Greek training base from which the coach and a number of athletes made a sudden departure.

Two years ago there was another unfortunate incident at the Athens Grand Prix, when a number of home athletes ­ including Kederis and Thanou ­ were withdrawn overnight. This coincided with the surprise arrival at the meeting hotel of a drug testing team from the IAAF.

In April of the following year, Tzekos was cautioned for working with Kederis and Thanou in Qatar, unknown to national or international bodies.

At the 2002 European Championships in Munich there was open speculation about Thanou's victory in the 100m. Kim Gavaert, the Belgian who finished runner-up, told her home press: "The Italian who was third came up to me after the race and said: 'For me, you are the European champion.' I cannot help thinking the gold medal should be mine. I don't think Thanou is clean. She's always hiding."

Darren Campbell, beaten to the gold by Kederis in 2000, revealed recently that he had had a similar sentiment expressed to him by a fellow athlete. "They came up to me when I was going to the medal ceremony and said 'Don't worry, by the morning that will be gold'."

By tonight, the Greeks will be desperately hoping that their golden hopes have not turned to dust.

Arts and Entertainment
filmPoldark production team claims innocence of viewers' ab frenzy
Life and Style
Google marks the 81st anniversary of the Loch Ness Monster's most famous photograph
techIt's the 81st anniversary of THAT iconic photograph
News
Katie Hopkins makes a living out of courting controversy
people
News
General Election
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Revealed: Why Mohammed Emwazi chose the 'safe option' of fighting for Isis, rather than following his friends to al-Shabaab in Somalia

Why Mohammed Emwazi chose Isis

His friends were betrayed and killed by al-Shabaab
'The solution can never be to impassively watch on while desperate people drown'
An open letter to David Cameron: Building fortress Europe has had deadly results

Open letter to David Cameron

Building the walls of fortress Europe has had deadly results
Tory candidates' tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they seem - you don't say!

You don't say!

Tory candidates' election tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they appear
Mubi: Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash

So what is Mubi?

Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash all the time
The impossible job: how to follow Kevin Spacey?

The hardest job in theatre?

How to follow Kevin Spacey
Armenian genocide: To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie

Armenian genocide and the 'good Turks'

To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie
Lou Reed: The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond the biographers' and memoirists' myths

'Lou needed care, but what he got was ECT'

The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond
Migrant boat disaster: This human tragedy has been brewing for four years and EU states can't say they were not warned

This human tragedy has been brewing for years

EU states can't say they were not warned
Women's sportswear: From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help

Women's sportswear

From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help
Hillary Clinton's outfits will be as important as her policies in her presidential bid

Clinton's clothes

Like it or not, her outfits will be as important as her policies
NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders