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IAAF looks at three possible 'no-shows'

8/26/2004

ATHENS, Greece -- Track's governing body began investigating
Thursday whether two Greek sprinters who withdrew from the Olympics
had tried repeatedly to avoid doping testers.

While the International Association of Athletics Federations
investigates, Kostas Kenteris and Katerina Thanou are free to
participate in competitions.

The two national sports heroes who won medals at the Sydney
Olympics have denied wrongdoing. And their lawyer, Michalis
Dimitrakopoulos, said of the latest probe: "We have nothing to
fear.''

Under IAAF rules, athletes face sanctions in the event of three
drug-test "no-shows'' in 18 months. Prior to the missed test in
Athens, the Greek runners were absent when testers looked for them
in Chicago on Aug. 10-11. The IAAF is also looking into a third
possible case involving Kenteris in Tel Aviv, Israel, in late July.

The IAAF's doping inquiry board will gather all information
about the case. If there is sufficient evidence of missed tests,
the case will go the Greek athletics federation, Segas, which will
conduct a hearing. IAAF can reject a finding by the federation.

"It will take weeks, but hopefully not months,'' said IAAF
spokesman Nick Davies.

Prosecutors are also investigating whether Kenteris and Thanou
were deliberately trying to avoid drug tests, as well as the
circumstances surrounding a suspicious motorcycle accident on the
eve of the games.

Kenteris, the surprise 200-meter gold medalist in 2000, and
Thanou, who took silver in the 100 meters in Sydney, could not be
found at the Olympic Village for an Aug. 12 drug test. Hours later,
they said they were involved in a motorcycle accident that happened
because they were rushing back to the Olympic village to be tested.
They spent several days in the hospital with cuts and bruises, and
later withdrew from the Olympics.

"All information obtained by Greek authorities will be looked
at,'' Davies said.

As part of the government probe, fraud inspectors with Greece's
Finance Ministry searched the offices of the sprinters' coach,
Christos Tsekos, for six hours Monday, seizing documents and
computers from his food supplements company in Athens.

Last week, inspectors from Greece's National Organization of
Medicines raided the offices and a warehouse, and confiscated some
items that they said contained small amounts of anabolic steroids.