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Greece Bars 2  Olympic Athletes Who Missed Drug Tests - 2004-08-14

The Greek Olympic Committee has reached a decision on its team's two sprinters who missed out-of-competition drug tests.

The committee said it is withdrawing 2000 Sydney Olympics medalists Kostas Kenteris and Katerina Thanou from the Athens games for missing their doping tests here Thursday.

However, the committee's president said the decision was contingent on a final ruling by the International Olympic Committee, which is scheduled to have a hearing Monday. The sprinters' coach was also suspended. The IOC will likely uphold the rulings.

Olympics expert, Ed Hula of, told VOA Sports the Greek, or Hellenic, Olympic Committee has essentially ducked making a definitive ruling.

"The Hellenic Olympic Committee has taken the easy way out. It's decided to let the International Olympic Committee decide this issue, which really isn't fully within, I'm not sure that's the best way to solve this because these are Greek athletes who can communicate best in Greece, and who's going to hear them best? It's the Hellenic Committee. They're the ones who know these two the best, not the International Olympic Committee. And I think it's a very painful decision that the Hellenic Olympic Committee did not want to make and they're hoping the IOC does their dirty work for them," he said.

Kenteris and Thanou, who train together, have a history of being hard to find for drug tests and rarely run in international competitions.

To add to the mystery, the two were hospitalized with minor injuries reportedly sustained in a motorcycle crash just hours after they missed their doping tests.

Kenteris, the reigning 200-meter Olympic champion, is Greece's most celebrated athlete, so the scandal has shocked the host nation. It is also overshadowing the opening of these games which were hope to be a showcase of national pride and achievement.