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Last Updated: Wednesday, 18 August, 2004, 12:25 GMT 13:25 UK
Greek duo out of Olympics
Kostas Kenteris looks pensive as he leaves the IOC hearing
Greek sprinters Kostas Kenteris and Katerina Thanou have withdrawn from the Olympic Games and subsequently had their case referred to the IAAF.

Athletics' world governing body will now decide whether the two should face a ban over their missed drugs tests.

The duo pulled out of the Games after an International Olympic Committee hearing on Wednesday.

But the IOC's executive board has opted not to take action against them or their coach Christos Tzekos.

Since the athletes and Tzekos have surrendered their Olympic accreditation, the IOC said, "It is no longer the authority responsible for issuing potential sanctions related to the Athens Olympic Games."

An IAAF council meeting in Athens next Thursday, 26 August, will now decide whether the pair committed a doping offence.

Kenteris and Thanou are likely to be formally suspended pending the outcome of an investigation into their missed tests.

But the IOC indicated the pair would have been kicked out of the Games if they tried to fight their corner.

"The athletes have maintained they have done nothing wrong, which is their right and it is true they have never tested positive," said Francois Carrard, the IOC's legal adviser.

I will continue to run and participate but not in the Olympics
Kostas Kenteris
"But the disciplinary committee felt they had enough material and evidence to lead to a sanction for the Athens Games.

"In the end, the case didn't get that far because the athletes voluntarily agreed to surrender their accreditation."

Under IAAF rules, three 'no-shows' for random drug tests means an automatic two-year ban.

'No-shows' had already been lodged against the pair in Tel Aviv last month and Chicago on 10 August before their failure to attend a test on the eve of the Games last Thursday.

Kenteris emerged from Wednesday's hearing - already twice delayed while the pair remained in hospital after an alleged motorcyle crash soon after their missed tests - continuing to protest his innocence.

The reigning Olympic 200m champion insisted he "was never informed or told to present myself for a doping control in the Olympic village" as he announced his withdrawal.

The 31-year-old also revealed he was breaking all links with his controversial coach Tzekos, who himself insisted: "I don't feel I have made any mistakes."

Katerina Thanou looks pensive as she attends the IOC hearing
It is very hard for an athlete to withdraw from the Games
Katerina Thanou
"I have passed drugs tests on 30 occasions in the last four years," Kenteris said. "But in the interests of the country I am withdrawing from the Games."

The sprinters' lawyer Michalis Dimitrakopoulos said his clients had "sacrificed themselves to ensure the smooth running of the Games."

But Greek Olympic Committee (HOC) spokesman Yiorgos Gakis retorted: "The Olympics don't need sacrifices. Greece's image is reflected in the country's medals."

Both athletes could face a potential two-year ban if the IAAF decides their missed test constitutes a doping offence.

Thanou, silver medallist at the 2000 Games in Sydney, had already missed the registration deadline for Friday's 100m heats, regardless of the IOC's decision.

"I want to apologise to the Greek people that I will not be at the Games, that I will not manage to race, and that is why I handed my accreditation into the IOC today," Thanou said.

"It is very hard for an athlete to withdraw from the Games especially when those Games are at home."

Neither sprinter showed any signs of injury from the alleged crash that kept them in hospital for five nights.

Carrard said the IOC had not looked into the circumstances of the incident.

"It is rather unusual for two medallists to be sitting on the same motorcycle," he said. "But we are not in the business of investigating road traffic accidents."

Kenteris reportedly suffered slight scratches, while Thanou was said to be experiencing discomfort in her groin area.

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