Kenteris/Thanou Trial: Making sense of the nonsensical
Wednesday, February 16 2011
Greek sprinters Kostas Kenteris and Ekaterini Thanou are scheduled to appear in an Athens courtroom on Monday, where they are charged with making false statements to police in connection with a motorcycle accident on the eve of the Athens Olympic Games in 2004.
Should the athletes be found guilty, they face possible sentencing of up to six months in prison, have the sentence suspended, be fined, or a combination of the above.
Since the court hearing the case is a criminal court, a conviction would lead to a criminal record. A criminal record would mean the athletes would lose all state benefits, including their current salary and future pension as symbolic members of the armed forces.
HellenicAthletes.com understands the athletes do not stand to lose any medals or prize money, as a result of a confidential agreement they have signed with the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF).
The IAAF dropped the charges of refusal and evasion to submit to doping tests in its out of court settlement with the athletes in 2006, after which the IAAF withdrew its appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).
The athletes’ lawyer at the time, Dr. Gregory Ioannidis of the University of Buckingham’s School of Law, has argued that as a result, there was never any ban imposed on his clients. The CAS erased the case from its register. That left the acquittal by the Greek athletics federation (SEGAS) in 2005 as the only legal ruling on the 2004 case, to date.
Also scheduled to appear in the courtroom is Greek investigative journalist and sports reporter Philippos Syrigos, who writes for the major Athens daily, Eleftherotypia.
Syrigos is on record via his writings that he received a call on the fateful night of August 12, 2004, where a source close to the athletes told him that there would be a motorcycle accident later that evening. The accident did occur about two hours later, around midnight.
Syrigos also claims that the source told him that while doping control authorities were looking for the athletes in Chicago earlier that summer, they were in fact hiding out and training in Greece, at Lechaion, Corinth.
Syrigos was brutally attacked in the fall of 2004, after leaving a radio station, by two unknown men who stabbed him and hit him with iron bars.
A report on the Greek website adiakritos.gr in 2009 added to the sensational Syrigos statements. It stated that inspiration for, and the directors of, what transpired that evening were former coach Christos Tzekos and the late Socratis Giolias, who in 2010 was shot dead outside his home in what police suspect was an attack carried out by a domestic terrorist group.
This would appear to be consistent with the 2005 ruling by SEGAS, which found Tzekos responsible and acquitted the athletes.
According to the website sportingreece.com, Giolias had worked for a number of years as a sports journalist and had developed a close relationship with the two sprinters, standing by the pair during the Athens scandal including appearing side by side with them at a press conference where they protested their innocence.
HellenicAthletes.com understands that Giolias was best man at Kenteris’s 2006 wedding.
The equally sensational adiakritos.gr story added that the wounds suffered by the athletes might have been self-inflicted.
In a 2008 story HellenicAthletes.com reported that the events of that evening in Athens might have been linked to events from earlier that day at the US training base in Crete, where reports alleged that America’s star sprinter Maurice Greene had also been targeted for testing, but not found.
The alternate theory being that word of the Crete story reached the Greek side in Athens, and they played a dangerous game of tit-for-tat that backfired badly.