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Gold medalist stripped after test tampering

8/24/2004

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 Russian shot putter Irina Korzhanenko's gold was revoked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.