Greek runner tests positive before games

Aug. 09, 2008, 2:05 a.m. (ET)

BEIJING (AP) Greek sprinter Tassos Gousis was excluded from the Beijing Olympics on Saturday after failing a doping test in his home country a few days before the games.

The Greek national Olympic committee said 29-year-old Gousis, who competes in the 200 meters, tested positive for the steroid methyltrienolone on Monday. He has been sent home from a pre-games training camp in Japan after being informed of the result.

"The first test returned positive," Greek press officer Tasos Papachristou told The Associated Press. "He's not in the team. Now he's traveling to Greece where I imagine he will ask for the 'B' sample (to be tested)."

Gousis finished eighth in the 200 at last year's world championships in Osaka, Japan. He competed in the 2004 Athens Olympics but failed to qualify for the 200 final.

Gousis' positive test is the latest in a spate of drug cases that have tarnished Greek Olympic athletes.

In June, the International Weightlifting Federation suspended 11 Greek weightlifters for two years after they tested positive for methyltrienolone.

Top Greek swimmer Ioannis Drymonakos tested positive for the same steroid in May. An unidentified Greek boxer was also barred from the Olympic team after failing a drug test.

Papachristou put the positives down to an increase in testing by the Greek anti-doping body.

"We have more and more tests in the last six months," he said. "The Greek Olympic Committee decided that each athlete must have three doping tests before coming to the games. More tests, more positives. One day everybody will be clean."

The IOC is also considering whether to bar Greek sprinter Katerina Thanou from the Beijing Games for eluding drug-testers on the eve of the 2004 Olympics. Papachristou said the Greeks expect a decision in the case by Tuesday.

IOC medical commission chairman Arne Ljungqvist said Gousis' positive test would not count as part of the official Beijing drug-testing program.

"It was not an IOC test," he said. "This is a Greek affair handled by the Greek authorities."

The IOC testing program began on July 27 with the opening of the village. Competitors can be tested at any place and at any time, including the athletes' village in Beijing and training sites abroad.

A record total of 4,500 tests will be conducted through the end of the Aug. 8-24 games, compared with 3,600 in Athens in 2004. More than 650 samples have been collected to date, with no positive results.

"We have nothing so far," Ljungqvist said.

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AP Sports Writer Paul Logothetis contributed to this story.

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