<
>

Kenteris was candidate to deliver torch

8/14/2004

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.