IN THE END, there was no deus ex machina for the best dramatists that Greece has produced in quite some time. Cornered by the IOC, hounded by the world’s media, disgraced in the eyes of their fellow citizens, sprinters Kostas Kederis and Ekaterini Thanou withdrew from the Athens Olympics, saving themselves only the final humiliation of being thrown out on their ears.
The saga, which dominated the Games’ first week, came to a shuddering halt last Wednesday. Unable to offer a convincing explanation why they ducked pre-competition drug tests-first in Chicago, then at the athletes’ village-or back up a dubious tale of injuries sustained in a motorcycle crash, the pair surrendered their Olympic IDs to IOC investigators. “I will not take part in the Games. I will not race,” Thanou, the women’s 100-m silver medallist in 2000, told reporters. “It’s a very hard thing for an athlete to withdraw from the Olympic Games, especially when they’re in their homeland.”
Kederis, who came out of nowhere to snatch the 200-m gold in 2000 and became a national hero, went down proclaiming his innocence. “After crucifixion comes resurrection,” he said. However, his second coming seems unlikely. The pair and their now ex-coach Christos Tzekos have been linked to the ongoing American BALCO drug scandal. And one U.S. newspaper reports they were identified in seized BALCO emails warning athletes that officials might be testing for THG, a previously undetectable anabolic steroid. Quitting the Games may have been their only way out.
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