Gold medalist stripped after test tampering

Updated: August 24, 2004, 3:19 PM ET
Associated Press

ATHENS, Greece -- The Hungarian gold medalist in the men's discus was stripped of his title Tuesday for failing to provide a drug test sample in an apparent attempt to beat the screening system.

Robert Fazekas, who won the discus on Monday night with an Olympic record throw of 232 feet, 8 inches, was disqualified from the competition and expelled from the games by the International Olympic Committee executive board.

He is the second athlete in two days to lose a gold medal for doping. Russian shot putter Irina Korzhanenko's gold was revoked Monday after she tested positive for steroids.

In another case Tuesday at the drug-tainted Athens Games, Belarusian high jumper Aleksey Lesnichiy was kicked out after testing positive for the steroid clenbuterol, the IOC said. He failed to clear a height in Friday's qualifying round.

Fazekas never got to wear the gold medal because the award ceremony wasn't held until Tuesday night. The title went instead to Lithuania's Virgilijus Alekna, who had finished second with a throw of 229 feet, 3 inches. Another Hungarian, Zoltan Kovago, was bumped from bronze to silver. Fourth-place finisher Aleksander Tammert of Estonia moved to third.

At Tuesday's ceremony, the scoreboard showed highlights from Sunday's competition, including Alekna's "winning throw." Fazekas was listed as DQ, or disqualified. Alekna looked bemused as he stepped on the top podium to receive the gold. He held up his arms and then stood still for Lithuanian anthem.

The IOC said Fazekas was found guilty of "refusing or failing without compelling justification" to provide a complete urine sample.

Any long-term sanction is up to the International Association of Athletics Federations, which could ban him for two years.

The IOC said the Hungarian delegation claimed Fazekas "was a deeply religious person who has always had difficulty to produce a sufficient quantity of urine in front of sample collectors."

Fazekas provided 25 milliliters of urine, one-third short of the required minimum sample. He refused to give another sample, saying he wasn't feeling well, the IOC said.

Two doping control officials cited "suspicions and allegations concerning certain technical methods and devices which would be used by certain athletes in order to avoid delivery of their own urine," the IOC said.

The IOC was referring to cases of athletes who try to beat drug tests by using catheters to inject "clean" urine into their bladders.

"While such suspicions and allegations are not proven, the attitude of the athlete raises a number of questions which were not answered," the IOC said. "The fact remains the athlete deliberately refused to submit to the full doping control procedure."

The Athens Games have produced a spate of doping cases.

Nine weightlifters have failed tests, including Greece's Leonidas Sampanis, who was stripped of a bronze medal in the 137-pound class after testing positive for testosterone.

A Kenyan boxer was sent home after failing an out-of-competition test, and two Greek baseball players, a Swiss cyclist, a Spanish canoe team member and an Irish distance runner were among athletes banned before the games.

Fazekas, 29, was European champion in 2002 and silver medalist at the 2003 world championships. His coach is Jozsef Vida, who also coaches Adrian Annus, the Hungarian who won the hammer throw gold medal Sunday.

Fazekas, who is also a world-class hammer thrower, had been a modest performer for most of his career until his breakthrough in 2002, when he won the European and World Cup titles.


Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press

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