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Greek sprinters withdrew Wednesday

8/19/2004

ATHENS, Greece -- A prosecutor looking into the suspicious
motorcycle accident involving Greek sprinters Kostas Kenteris and
Katerina Thanou wants to take a closer look at the injuries
sustained by the athletes, a judicial source said Thursday.

Prosecutor Haralambos Lakafosis, overseeing the investigation
into the accident, wants to question some of the doctors at Athens'
KAT hospital, a senior source in the Athens prosecutor's office
told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity.

The medical condition of the two athletes is considered a key
part of the investigation into the accident and could answer
allegations that it might not have taken place or was staged.

The wreck was reported on the night of Aug. 12, hours after the
two sprinters missed a drug test at the Olympic Village. They were
hospitalized with cuts and bruises, which prolonged an
International Olympic Committee probe into whether they evaded the
test.

Both withdrew from the games Wednesday.

A statement issued by the hospital on Aug. 13 said the
31-year-old Kenteris suffered "cranial trauma,'' whiplash and open
wounds on his lower leg. Thanou sustained abdominal bruises,
injuries to her right hip and a muscular injury to her right upper
leg.

There have been reports that the statement does not match a
report from medical examiner Philipos Koutsaftis, who looked at the
athletes on Aug. 16.

The examiner's report said that he noticed a few cuts on
Kenteris' right leg and left elbow, and detected no significant
injuries to Thanou four days after the accident, according to
reports.

Kenteris' lawyer, Michalis Dimitrakopoulos, denied allegations
of any wrongdoing by the athletes.

Dimitrakopoulos said that when they discovered they were being
sought by the International Olympic Committee for a doping test,
they took the motorcycle to quickly return to the Olympic Village
from the home of their coach, Christos Tsekos.

"It is a well-known fact to all Greeks
that Kostas Kenteris normally rides motorbikes. They got onto the
bike and swiftly set out for the Olympic Village to say, 'We are
here. We're not hiding,' and unfortunately, this accident occurred --
which is traumatizing, which is real -- they were injured and these
injuries have been certified by six top doctors from our country,''
Dimitrakopoulos told Associated Press Television News.

He conceded, however, that "when an atmosphere of mistrust has
been created I understand when people look on this accident with
wariness. But the truth is that this was a real accident, and I
have to emphasize here that when they entered the Olympic hospital,
they didn't hide themselves.''

Greek government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos, who has said
many "unanswered questions remain''' in the case, promised
Thursday that authorities would leave no stone unturned in their
effort to discover the truth about the case involving Kenteris and
Thanou.

"The political decision taken by the government is not to allow
anything to be covered up,'' Roussopoulos said.

He said the government was waiting for chief prosecutor Dimitris
Papagelopoulos to finish his investigation before commenting on the
case.

Papagelopoulos was expected to be given the results of the
investigation on Friday. He will then review the case and decide
whether more statements are needed. He will then press charges if
he determines any laws were broken. It was unclear when he would do
that, but such decision could take a couple of weeks.

Roussopoulos said the government was confident the prosecutor
would carry out a full investigation and did not feel the need to
begin its own probe of the state-run KAT.

"We won't scorn the prosecutor,'' Roussopoulos said of the
government's decision to not to carry out its own investigation.
"We are not putting on a show here, we are looking for the
substance, which is the prosecutor's job.''