Prosecutors seize files of Greek sprint stars

Posted: Thursday, August 26, 2004

ATHENS, Greece Prosecutors seized the hospital records Wednesday of two Greek sprinting stars who withdrew from the Olympics after they missed a doping test and were involved in a suspicious motorcycle accident, a government source said.

The source told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity that prosecutors visited the KAT trauma hospital and left with the records of Kostas Kenteris and Katerina Thanou.

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 KAT hospital with cuts and bruises, and later withdrew from the Olympics.

Now, prosecutors are investigating the motorcycle accident and whether the two national stars were deliberately trying to avoid drug tests. Kenteris and Thanou have denied any wrongdoing.

In another development, a man who said he witnessed the accident was arrested Wednesday after police discovered he had an outstanding warrant against him for an unrelated fraud conviction, a police and court source told the AP.

At least two people, neither publicly identified, have told police they witnessed the accident including one who said he drove them to the hospital. All the witnesses talked to authorities after the two athletes were released from the hospital.

As part of the 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.

Government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos said Wednesday that the sports ministry gave prosecutors records indicating that a number of companies, including one belonging to Tsekos, had allegedly received unauthorized subsidies from Greece's former Socialist government.

''The prosecutor will announce the results of his investigation when it is over,'' Roussopolos said when asked about the alleged subsidies, which he said were worth about $1.8 million.

Roussopoulos refused to say what the subsidies were for.

Two leading Greek newspapers, To Vima and Eleftherotypia, have in recent days published reports that the former Socialist government, which lost to the conservatives in March elections, allegedly were approached by Tsekos with plans to help train numerous Greek athletes for a fee.

Tsekos and his lawyer have not commented publicly on the reports and calls to their offices by the AP were not immediately returned. Senior officials in the former Socialist government also have denied the claims.

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