Controversial Greek sprinter banned from Olympics

The International Olympic Committee banned Greek sprinter Ekaterina Thanou from the Beijing Games for having missed three drug tests during the 2004 Athens Olympics.


Beijing 2008 commented by FRANCE 24 Observers


Greek sprinter Ekaterina Thanou was excluded from the Olympic Games here on Sunday after the International Olympic Committee (IOC) refused to accredit her for her role in the 'scandalous saga' that dominated the 2004 Games.

The 33-year-old missed the 2004 edition in Athens after she and fellow sprinter Kostadinos Kenteris missed an eve-of-Games dope test - their third in a year.

Thanou, a 100m silver medalist in Sydney 2000 who could well get the gold as Marion Jones has been stripped of the title, and Kenteris - the 2000 Sydney Olympics 200m champion - claimed they had had a motorbike accident on the way back to the village to undergo the test.

Both later turned in their accreditation and were provisionally banned in 2004 by athletics' world governing body the IAAF, sitting out competition for more than two years before eventually admitting to having missed three dope tests prior to the Athens Olympics.

Despite Thanou having served the ban and just reaching the qualifying standard for the 100 metres here, the IOC examined her entry, insisting that under their rules (IOC Rules 23.21 and 45) they are not obliged to allow her to run.

The IOC say that as they had handed in their accreditation they had not been able to punish the athletes and had always said that should they reapply to compete in the Games their application would come under review.

Giselle Davies, IOC spokeswoman, confirmed what most people had expected.

"The IOC executive Board upon receiving the recommendations from the Disciplinary Commission has declared her (Thanou) ineligible under rule 23.21)," said Davies.

"Indeed the Executive Board went further and unanimously voted under Rule 45 to bar her, to send a firm signal that she has brought the Olympics into disrepute."

Davies illustrated that Thanou's behaviour had gone beyond the pale, using fairly forthright language unusual in these cases.

"There were a whole string of events in this sorry tale," said Davies, who revealed that Thanou had been informed of the decision.

"These resulted in a scandalous saga that overshadowed the Athens Games.

"It was a very serious prejudice against the Olympic Movement."

The IOC had summoned Thanou to a disciplinary hearing regarding charges of "disrepute and prejudice caused to the Olympic Movement" and also over issues regarding an ongoing perjury trial in Greece pertaining to the alleged motorcycle accident.

Her legal team countered by saying the IOC "appears to have a personal vendetta" against Thanou as several other athletes who actually tested positive and served bans will be competing in Beijing.

Thanou and her legal team boycotted the hearing, sending a memo instead to the disciplinary commission.

That may not be the end of the matter as Thanou had indicated that if barred she would sue the IOC, though, an appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) may well be her first step.

However, last week IOC vice-president Thomas Bach expressed his confidence that the rule 45 "tells everybody that the IOC can operate like that. We are confident that we can stand any challenge to a decision."

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