Sprint­ers guilty of fak­ing crash

Kathimerini English - - Front Page -

Al­most seven years af­ter they missed the Athens Olympics amid a cloud of con­tro­versy, for­mer sprint­ers Costas Ken­teris and Ka­te­rina Thanou as well as their coach Chris­tos Tzekos re­ceived sus­pended sen­tences yes­ter­day for fak­ing a mo­tor­cy­cle ac­ci­dent that the ath­letes said had pre­vented them from get­ting to a dop­ing test on the eve of the Games.

The Syd­ney 2000 Olympic medal­ists and their coach said they would ap­peal the sen­tences. Their case will be heard within 10 days. Ken­teris, 37, and Thanou, 36, were each sen­tenced to 31 months in jail for stag­ing the crash, which they claimed oc­curred as they were rush­ing to get to the Olympic Vil­lage for the drugs tests.

“The court finds that this ac­ci­dent never oc­curred,” Dim­itris Le­fkos, the pre­sid­ing judge in the case said, ac­cord­ing to The Associated Press.

Tzekos was sen­tenced to 33 months in jail. Seven doc­tors from the KAT pub­lic hos­pi­tal who treated the ath­letes and two wit­nesses to the al­leged crash were handed sen­tences of be­tween six and 15 months. All the sen­tences were sus­pended.

“This rul­ing is a legal stain on the [jus­tice] sys­tem, which I am cer­tain will be wiped clean at the ap­peal,” Ken­teris’s lawyer Michalis Dim­i­trakopou­los said.

The lawyer said his client had been treated harshly. “It is sim­ply un­be­liev­able to refuse any mit­i­gat­ing cir­cum­stances to Olympic cham­pi­ons. That is granted to drug deal­ers and felons,” he said.

“And now we have this de­ci­sion for two ath­letes as if they have not of­fered any­thing to the coun­try. It is dis­grace­ful and I am ashamed for my coun­try.”

“We be­lieve jus­tice was not served or de­liv­ered,” Maria Kevga, lead lawyer for Tzekos and Thanou, said. “To­day, un­for­tu­nately, jus­tice showed it­self to be blind to the truth... Dur­ing this en­tire pro­ce­dure, there were no ev­i­dence heard that proved that the ath­letes of Mr Tzekos faked an ac­ci­dent.”

Ken­teris, the 200-me­ter gold medal­ist at the 2000 Syd­ney Olympics, and 100-me­ter sil­ver medal­ist Thanou were ac­quit­ted of dop­ing charges in a Greek ath­let­ics fed­er­a­tion probe in 2005.

The In­ter­na­tional As­so­ci­a­tion of Ath­let­ics Fed­er­a­tions (IAAF) ap­pealed the ver­dict at the Court of Ar­bi­tra­tion for Sport. The ath­letes set­tled out of court in 2006 and sub­se­quently ad­mit­ted only to anti-dop­ing rule vi­o­la­tions, es­sen­tially serv­ing out their un­of­fi­cial two-year sus­pen­sions.

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