Thanou and Kenteris guilty, says prosecutor

By Graham Wood

ATHENS (Reuters) - Kostas Kenteris and Katerina Thanou and their coach Christos Tzekos should be found guilty of giving false statements to authorities before the 2004 Athens Olympics in a doping probe, the Athens prosecutor told a court on Tuesday.

The two Sydney 2000 Olympic sprint medalists and their coach are accused of staging a motorcycle crash on the eve of their home Games to avoid a drugs test.

In his summary, Athens public prosecutor Giorgos Petros told a court that "there is no evidence that there was an accident. The police found no trace of an accident at the scene where the two athletes claimed it took place."

He also stated that the banned stimulant ephedrine and androgen steroids were found in a warehouse of Tzekos.

FOUND GUILTY

The prosecutor requested that the doctors involved be found guilty of misconduct although acknowledging that they made decisions in difficult circumstances with two huge figures in Greek sport in front of them.

Kenteris, who won the 200m gold medal at the Sydney Olympics, and 100m silver medalist Thanou, were regarded as Greece's best hopes of success in track and field at their home Olympics.

The episode cast a pall over the entire Games and was regarded by Olympic watchers as the biggest scandal to hit the event since the 1988 Ben Johnson affair when the 100m sprint champion gave a positive doping test after winning gold.

The trial of Kenteris and Thanou, which took years to start after frequent postponements, began in January and has already been held up due to the absence of witnesses.

If convicted, the sprinters could face up to a five-year suspended jail sentence.

The trial will continue with statements from the defense and a decision is expected in the coming few days.

(Editing by Jon Bramley)