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Ephedrine found in Tsekos warehouse

8/23/2004

ATHENS, Greece -- Small amounts of anabolic steroids were
found in a warehouse used by the coach of two Greek sprinters at
the center of a doping scandal, government officials said Monday.

The search of coach Christos Tsekos' facilities last week was
part of an investigation into whether 2000 Olympic medalists Kostas
Kenteris and Katerina Thanou tried to avoid a doping test on the
eve of the Athens Games.

A prosecutor and two government inspectors confiscated 641 boxes
of food supplements and found that more than 1,000 of the
supplements listed ephedrine as the main ingredient.

Also found was a small batch of medicine with steroids that came
from the United States, Bulgaria and Germany, according to Greece's
National Organization of Medicines, its equivalent of the U.S. Food
and Drug Administration. It didn't say what kind of steroids they
were.

Ephedrine is used in weight-reducing formulas and other
medicines, and a version of the drug was linked to the death of
Baltimore Orioles pitcher Steve Bechler. Some athletes take it to
get a short-term energy burst and to increase alertness, but it's
on the list of banned substances for Olympic competitors.

Tsekos' lawyer, Michalis Dimitrakopoulos, said the supplements
in the warehouse were legal.

"There is nothing illegal and nothing prohibited in the
containers that Mr. Tsekos' company imports," he said.

"An investigation is ongoing from the responsible ministries
and the judicial probe is ongoing, the findings from the judicial
probe are going to the prosecutor. The next steps will be decided
by the government and the government will announce them at the
appropriate time," government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos
said.

Kenteris, the 200-meter gold medalist at the Sydney Games, and
Thanou, who took the silver in the 100 meters, could not be found
at the Olympic Village for an Aug. 12 drug test. Hours later, they
were in a suspicious motorcycle accident that kept them
hospitalized for four days.

The athletes denied taking banned substances, and said the
accident happened because they were rushing back to the Olympic
village to be tested. The sprinters later withdrew from the
Olympics, and Kenteris cut ties with Tsekos.