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Annus considers himself the champion

8/31/2004

BUDAPEST, Hungary -- The Hungarian hammer thrower who was
stripped of his gold medal after refusing to take a follow-up drug
test at the Athens Olympics said Tuesday he still considers himself
the champion and vowed to keep his medal.

Adrian Annus also reiterated his decision to retire rather than
deal with what he called a campaign to manipulate test results
against him.

"Hammer throwing was my life and this wasn't the way I planned
to bid farewell to the sport," Annus told the state-run news wire
MTI. "I only want my family and I to be left alone."

The International Olympic Committee said Annus passed two drug
tests -- one before and one right after his event on Aug. 22.
Although both samples came back clean, the analysis "showed
evidence of belonging to two different athletes, indicating
possible tampering," the IOC said.

Annus was ordered to take another drug test after he returned to
Hungary, but failed to show up. Refusing to take a drug test is
considered the same as testing positive.

He was stripped of the medal at an IOC disciplinary hearing that
he did not attend.

Annus said he is still considering legal action against the IOC.

"Many law firms have contacted me in the last few days,
including several foreign ones," Annus said. "If there is a way
for me to prove my truth by legal means, I'll take the necessary
steps."

Hungarian Olympic Committee spokesman Dezso Vad said the
organization has been notified by the IOC about returning Annus's
medal, but that no deadline has been set.

"If Annus would have stayed longer in the Olympic Village, the
IOC would have taken the medal from him there," Dezso told The
Associated Press.

Three Hungarians forfeited medals in Athens because of doping --
Annus, discus gold medalist Robert Fazekas and weightlifter Ferenc
Gyurkovics, who won a silver.

After Annus' medal was stripped, Japan's Koji Murofushi was
awarded the gold, Ivan Tikhon of Belarus moved up to silver, and
Turkey's Esref Apak won the bronze.