Greek sprinter barred from Olympics

Aug. 10, 2008, 1:10 a.m. (ET)

BEIJING (AP) Greek sprinter Katerina Thanou was barred from the Beijing Olympics on Sunday for her role in a drug-testing scandal at the Athens Games four years ago.

The International Olympic Committee's executive board made the decision after its disciplinary panel investigated Thanou's selection for the 100 meters for the Greek team, IOC spokeswoman Giselle Davies said.

Thanou still has the right to appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport. The women's 100-meter heats are Aug. 16.

"What happens next with regards to CAS, that's speculative," Davies said. "We'll have to wait and see."

Thanou and fellow Greek sprinter Kostas Kenteris missed doping tests on the eve of the 2004 opening ceremony, contending they were injured in a motorcycle accident.

The pair eventually withdrew from the games and returned their Olympic accreditations. The IOC did not sanction them at the time but they were later suspended for two years by track and field's ruling body.

Thanou returned to competition in 2007 and was selected in the Greek team.

IOC president Jacques Rogge said earlier the committee had reserved the right in Athens to open disciplinary procedures against Thanou and Kenteris if they sought accreditation for future games.

A three-man panel started meeting Thursday to consider the case and made its recommendations to the executive board on Sunday morning.

Davies said the executive board accepted the findings that Thanou was ineligible to compete at the Beijing Games under rule 23.2.1 of the Olympic charter.

She said the board took an independent decision, "to send a firm message" to bar Thanou for bringing the Olympic movement into disrepute.

"There is a whole string - a list of events - that took place over the course of this sorry tale," Davies said. "This string of events really resulted in what the IOC sees as a scandalous saga that overshadowed the Athens Games and brought the IOC, the Olympic movement as a whole, into disrepute. Based on this, the board made its recommendation that she should be ineligible."

The IOC can bar athletes from the Olympics if they are considered guilty of improper conduct or bringing the games into disrepute.

The hearing into Thanou's eligibility is not connected to her claim to the 100-meter gold medal won by Marion Jones at the 2000 Sydney Olympics.

Thanou finished second in that race. Jones was stripped of all five of her Sydney medals after admitting this year that she was doping at the time.

The IOC has not made a decision on the reallocation of Jones' medals.