Hearing delayed two days

Updated: August 16, 2004, 9:44 PM ET
Associated Press

ATHENS, Greece -- Prosecutors opened an investigation Monday into the motorcycle accident that left Greek sprinters Kostas Kenteris and Katerina Thanou hospitalized shortly after they missed drug tests.

The International Olympic Committee granted them another extension on Monday. A disciplinary hearing was pushed back by two days, when they're expected to be out of the hospital.

The IOC and city prosecutors are trying to find out what happened last Thursday, when the two national stars weren't available for drug tests in the Olympic village.

They were taken to a hospital a few hours later after their motorcycle skidded and crashed, leaving them with bruises and cuts.

Chief city prosecutor Dimitris Papagelopoulos ordered an investigation to determine if any laws were violated by the athletes, their coach or sports officials in connection to the accident.

Prosecutors plan to take statements and give medical exams to the sprinters, who expect to leave the hospital on Tuesday. Prosecutors want to know if the accident was part of an attempt to cover up the missed drug tests.

The accident has caused the IOC to twice postpone its disciplinary hearings. Their lawyer, Michalis Dimitrakopoulos, assured the committee that there would be no more delays.

"He personally committed himself to bring both athletes on Wednesday,'' committee spokesman Francois Carrard said.

Dimitrakopoulos said the sprinters want to give their side of a story that disappointed a nation and overshadowed the games' opening ceremony.

"What interests them most is for the Greeks to be proud of them and to know the medals they've won, they won them honorably,'' he said.

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

Thanou, the 100-meter silver medalist in Sydney four years ago, is Kenteris' training partner.

The Greek Olympic Committee suspended the athletes on Saturday, pending a final decision by the IOC. Their coach, Christos Tsekos, was also suspended.

Tsekos said Monday he wasn't sure whether the sprinters would be physically fit enough to run in the games, even if they're cleared. The track events start on Aug. 20.

If they do not compete at the games, it would be "because of the accident. There is no other reason,'' Tsekos said.

Carrard said the IOC panel agreed to another delay because it's important for the sprinters to have a chance to defend themselves.

"It's not like a simple doping test. You have to investigate specific circumstances, and the due process due to the athletes is fundamental,'' Carrard said.

Dimitrakopoulos plans to fight any attempt to keep the sprinters out of the Olympics. "The suspicions are not the reality,'' he said. "It is not true that our athletes tried to evade doping control.''

Any IOC decision would have to be appealed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, which has set up a tribunal in Athens during the games. CAS is supposed to make rulings within 24 hours of an appeal.

Women weightlifter booted
ATHENS, Greece -- A female weightlifter from Myanmar was kicked out of the Athens Olympics on Monday after a positive drug test.

Nan Aye Khine, 27, was stripped of her fourth-place finish in Saturday's 106-pound (48kg) class.

The International Olympic Committee executive board said she tested positive for a banned steroid in a pre-competition test Thursday. Test results were confirmed after she competed.

She is the second doping case of the games, but the first who competed. Kenyan bantamweight boxer David Munyasia was barred last week after testing positive for the banned stimulant cathine in an out-of-competition test.

Myanmar formerly was known as Burma.

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press