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IOC formally expels Greek hurdler for doping

Aug. 18, 2008, 12 p.m. (ET)

BEIJING (AP) The IOC formally expelled Greek hurdler Fani Halkia from the Beijing Olympics on Monday for doping and urged Greek authorities to investigate her coach for possible criminal violations.

Halkia, the 2004 Olympic women's 400-meter hurdles champion, tested positive for the steroid methyltrienolone at a Greek training camp in Japan on Aug. 10 before arriving in Beijing.

Notified of the result, she pulled out of the games Sunday and flew home to Greece.

The International Olympic Committee, which set up a disciplinary commission to investigate the case, said Halkia had been officially kicked out of the games and had her accreditation revoked.

The IOC asked the International Association of Athletics Federations to take any further sanctions. Under global anti-doping rules, Halkia faces a two-year ban for a steroid offense.

In addition, the IOC said it was reporting the matter to Greek authorities and requesting they investigate possible violations of Greek law, in particular by her coach, George Panagiotopoulos.

The IOC said it reserved the right to take sanctions against the coach. Panagiotopoulos is also the coach of Greek sprinter Tassos Gousis, who tested positive for the same steroid and was sent home a few days before the Olympics.

"This decision shows the determination of the IOC to broaden the fight against doping to those behind athletes," the committee said.

Halkia's backup "B'' sample was tested Sunday and also came back positive for methyltrienolone, which the IOC described as a dangerous drug that "may lead to serious consequences to the health of athletes, even threatening their lives."

The IOC rejected Halkia's written defense that she had never used the steroid and suspected "acts of tampering by third parties."

Halkia was the fourth athlete to test positive during the IOC's Beijing anti-doping program.

North Korean shooter Kim Jong Su was stripped of his silver and bronze medals after testing positive for a banned betablocker, Spanish cyclist Isabel Moreno was expelled after testing positive for EPO in a pre-competition check, and Vietnamese gymnast Thi Ngan Thuong Do was caught using a prohibited diuretic.

Halkia left China a few hours before Sunday's first round of the women's 400 hurdles. She was a relative unknown before winning gold in Athens, where her semifinal time of 52.77 established an Olympic record.

Halkia is the 15th Greek athlete to have tested positive for methyltrienolone. The list includes 11 weightlifters, swimmer Yannis Drymonakos, 400-meter runner Dimitrios Regas, and Gousis.

The IOC is conducting a record 4,500 drug tests in Beijing, up from 3,600 in Athens.