Greece_olympics_steroidsThere is a forced exodus of Greek athletes from the 2008 Olympics because of their alleged use of steroids and performance-enhancing drugs.

The latest list of athletes who have been banned from participating in the ongoing Summer games in Beijing include Tassos Gousis, Kostas Kenteris, and Katerina Thanou.

The incident involving Gousis broke on the day of the opening ceremony of Olympics in Beijing. Gousis was expected to run in the 200-meter event before he was recalled after testing positive for a banned compound, according to Greek sports officials. The officials did not immediately name the athlete since only the first of his two samples has tested positive.

“We have been informed that there is a positive result involving one of our athletes,” Segas chairman Vassilis Sevastis told AFP. “The athlete will be recalled and suspended pending tests on the second sample,” he added, without giving further details.

The Greek media, however, identified the athlete as Gousis who later told reporters that he was not guilty of any wrongdoing.

“I am innocent and my conscience is clear”, Gousis said. “It would be stupid for me to take a banned substance just before the Games,” he added.

The media has reported that Gousis has tested positive for the banned compound methyltrienolone.

In anti-doping testing, both samples should test positive for steroids before a doping violation is declared. Both samples are taken from a single batch provided by the athlete at the control and are identified as A sample and B sample. Anti-doping organizations do not determine guilt until the positive A sample has been confirmed by the B sample.

A statement issued by the Hellenic Olympic Committee said that the athlete had been tested by the Eskan, the Greek anti-doping council. The Greek Olympic team has undergone scheduled check prior its entry into the Olympic Village.

“There will be further statements after the test results are finalized,” the HOC said. HOC officials could not immediately be reached for comment.

Meanwhile, Greek sprinter Katerina Thanou was disallowed to join in the Summer Games by the International Olympic Committee on Sunday. The IOC imposed the ban because of Thanou’s involvement in a drug-testing scandal that took place four years ago at the Athens Games.

According to the IOC spokesperson Giselle Davies, the IOC’s executive board decided to bar the female sprinter after its disciplinary panel looked into Thanou’s selection for the 100 meter-event for the Greek team.

The three-man panel convened on Thursday to deliberate the case and then provided recommendations to the executive board on Sunday. The board agreed with the panel’s findings which rendered Thanou ineligible to compete in Beijing because she violated rule 23.2.1 of the Olympic Charter. The rule pertains to withdrawal of accreditation among other disqualification grounds.

Before her exclusion from the Games, Thanou was scheduled to participate at the 100-meter heats scheduled for August 16.

Thanou, along with fellow sprinter Kostas Kenteris, reportedly missed doping tests on the eve of the opening ceremony of the Athens Games. The pair claimed they missed the testing because they were injured in a motorcycle accident and were hospitalized because of the accident. An official Greek investigation, however, found out that it had been staged. Both athletes eventually withdrew from the Games and returned their Olympic accreditations.

They were not immediately sanctioned by the IOC but they were subsequently penalized with a two-year suspension by the International Association of Athletics Federation, the world governing body for athletics.

In 2007, Thanou returned to the track and was selected to join in the Greek team.
Thanou won the silver medal at the 2000 Sydney Olympics in the same event where the controversial Marion Jones had won the gold. Since Jones was stripped of that medal (along with the four others she had won in Sydney) due to steroid use, Thanuo could be awarded the gold. However, because Thanuo’s career is also tainted with doping allegations the IOC is yet to take any decisive action on the matter.

In March 2008, eleven out of 14 members of the weightlifting team were tested positive for the anabolic steroids methytrienolone. This is also the same banned compound that allegedly nailed Tassos Gousis (as mentioned above) and swimmer Yiannis Drymonakos. Drymonakos is currently the European 200-meter butterfly champion.

Greece’s hope for victories in swimming dwindles with the Drymonako’s failed doping test. Aside from winning the 200-meter butterfly at the European championships in Eindhoven in March and setting a new European record there, Drymonakos also won the silver in the 400-meter medley at the same meet.

A month later, he won a bronze medal in the 400m individual medley at the world short-course championship in Manchester.

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