Kenteris was candidate to deliver torch

Updated: August 14, 2004, 10:09 AM ET
Associated Press

ATHENS, Greece -- Dogged by charges of skipping a drug test, Greece's top sprinter had been a candidate to run with the torch in the final moments of the opening ceremony at the Athens Games but was passed over, local organizers said.

Organizers ended days of speculation Saturday by acknowledging that Kostas Kenteris was on a list of 12 athletes who were candidates to participate in the last part of the relay, which concluded at the main stadium during Friday's ceremony. Organizers wouldn't say why Kenteris did not get the honor.

Nikolaos Kaklamanakis, a Greek windsurfing champion from the Atlanta Games, ultimately lit the cauldron. Six athletes ran with the torch in the stadium, though organizers had originally said there would be seven torchbearers.

Michael Zacharatos, Athens 2004 spokesman, said Kenteris "was part of the 12 definitely ... of course he was, he is an Olympic champion.''

Zacharatos would not confirm that he was the initial choice to light the cauldron.

Kenteris, the reigning 200-meter Olympic champion, and Katerina Thanou, 100-meter silver medalist in Sydney, were hospitalized following a late-night motorcycle wreck Thursday, just hours after drug testers failed to locate them in the Olympic village.

The Greek Olympic Committee is meeting Saturday to discuss the situation, and International Olympic Committee officials are set to review the issue in a disciplinary committee hearing on Monday.

A source within Greece's Olympic Committee, speaking on condition of anonymity, told The Associated Press that one topic at the meeting will be whether Kenteris should withdraw from the games.

The IOC's Anti-Doping Rules for these games say doping violations include "refusing, or failing without compelling justification, to submit to sample collection after notification.'' Such a violation may lead to ineligibility.

Any sanction can be appealed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, which has set up a tribunal in Athens.

Squared circle shrinking
Ihor Pashchuk, a light welterweight from Ukraine, won't compete in the Olympics after failing a medical exam before Friday's weigh-in.

Pashchuk, 20, qualified for the Olympics with an improbable run to the final of the European Championships, which included a semifinal win over French Olympian Willy Blain. Pashchuk then failed to weigh in for the final.

Boxing officials didn't disclose the reason for Pashchuk's failed physical.

Kenya bantamweight David Munyasia was thrown out of the games Tuesday after testing positive for a banned stimulant.

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press