Riddle of Drugs Test Greeks; Star Athletes Heading out of Games as They Lie in Hospital
Byline: SHEKHAR BHATIA
TWO star Greek athletes caught up in a bizarre drugs scandal on the opening day of the Olympic Games have been given 72 hours to save their careers.
Sprinters Kostas Kenteris and Katerina Thanou were this afternoon summoned from their hospital beds to appear before an International Olympic Committee tribunal to explain why they missed a random drugs test.
But the deadline was later extended to 72 hours because the pair are being treated for injuries they claim they suffered in a motorcycle crash. The alleged accident happened after the two failed to turn up for the drugs test.
Before the deadline was extended, Greek Olympic team spokesman George Gakis said: "The athletes will not be leaving hospital; if the IOC committee wants to go there and listen to what they have to say that is up to them."
The hospital confirmed: "The two are staying hospitalised for the next 48 hours."
The IOC said the pair had been visited in hospital today and ordered to appear before a three member IOC drugs panel.
Police were today trying to establish how the motorbike accident happened but said no other vehicle was involved. Sources close to the Greek team say the two athletes are now unlikely to compete in the Games whatever the result of the IOC tribunal.
The mystery surrounding the pair deepened further when a leading athletics official said the sprinters missed a drugs test in Chicago several days ago after leaving for Athens a day earlier than planned.
"They came back a day early, this is our information," said Istvan Gyulai, general secretary of the International Association of Athletics Federations.
The news that Greece's golden boy Kenteris was in trouble with Olympic antidoping officials has sent shock waves through the country only hours before the opening ceremony.
After winning the Sydney 200 metres gold Kenteris, 31, is a superstar athlete in his home country - and was believed to have been chosen to light the Olympic flame tonight.
Thanou, 29, was the silver medallist for the women's 100 metres in the Olympics four years ago.
Some Greeks broke down in tears on the streets of Athens after confused reports filtered through that Kenteris had either failed a drugs test or was being carpeted for failing to show up for examination. …