Greek runner tests positive, may be removed from Games

BEIJING --- A Greek sprinter failed a drug test a few days before the Olympics and could be removed from the games.

IOC medical commission chairman Arne Ljungqvist said Saturday he was notified that a male runner, identified by Greek television as 29-year-old Tassos Gousis, tested positive for a steroid in Greece on Monday. The athlete was with the Greek team at a training camp in Japan when informed of the result.

"The Greek anti-doping body has requested that the Greek athletics federation withdraw the athlete from the games," Ljungqvist said. "It was not an IOC test. It is a Greek affair. It is a national case."

Earlier in Athens, the Greek national Olympic committee said more tests are being carried on a second sample. Greek state television NET said the first sample had tested positive for methyltrienolone.

The Greek Olympic committee described it as "irregular result" and said it and the anti-doping council were taking "all necessary action to clarify the incident and a further statement will follow after the second sample is analyzed." It gave no more details.

It's the latest of a spate of drug cases tarnishing Greek Olympic athletes.

In June, the International Weightlifting Federation suspended 11 Greek weightlifters for two years after they tested positive for methyltrienolone.

Top Greek swimmer Ioannis Drymonakos tested positive for the same steroid in May. Last month, a Greek boxer was barred from the Olympic team after failing a drug test.

The IOC is also considering whether to bar Greek sprinter Katherina Thanou from the Beijing Games for eluding drug-testers on the eve of the 2004 Athens Games. A decision is expected in the next few days.

Ljungqvist said the latest positive would not count as a positive doping case in the IOC's Beijing drug-testing program. The testing began July 27 with the opening of the village. Competitors can be tested at any place and at any time, including the athletes' village in Beijing and training sites abroad.

A record 4,500 tests will be conducted through the end of the Aug. 8-24 games, compared with 3,600 in Athens in 2004. More than 650 samples have been collected so far, with no positive results.

"We have nothing so far," Ljungqvist said.

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