October 30, 2007 / 3:26 PM / 10 years ago

Greek sprinters and coach deny BALCO links

File photo of sprinter Katerina Thanou leaving the KAT hospital in Athens, August 17, 2004. Greek sprinters Thanou and Costas Kenteris and their former coach Christos Tzekos had no links with the BALCO laboratory at the centre of U.S. sport's biggest doping scandal, their lawyers said on Tuesday.Yves Herman/Files

ATHENS (Reuters) - Greek sprinters Katerina Thanou and Costas Kenteris and their former coach Christos Tzekos had no links with the BALCO laboratory at the centre of U.S. sport's biggest doping scandal, their lawyers said on Tuesday.

Lawyers for the trio held a news conference following speculation in the Greek media about links with the laboratory.

"They deny any involvement with the BALCO case. The Kenteris-Thanou-Tzekos case regarding BALCO is now closed," said Nikos Kollias, one of two lawyers present.

"Greek prosecutors have gone over the file requested from the United States and they have shelved this case a few days ago," Kollias said.

Kenteris and Thanou, who were training partners, withdrew from the Athens 2004 Olympics after missing a doping test on the eve of the Games.

They served a two-year suspension, admitting to violating anti-doping rules, but have never tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs.

Sydney Gold

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has yet to decide if Thanou should get the Sydney Olympics 100 metres gold medal after race winner Marion Jones of the United States confessed to doping.

Thanou finished second in the 2000 race behind Jones, who earlier this month handed back her five Olympic medals and accepted a two-year ban.

Jones said the performance-enhancing substance she used came from BALCO which has been at the centre of a doping scandal that has tarnished the reputations of leading names in baseball, athletics and American football.

BALCO founder Victor Conte served four months in prison for his role in the scandal.

Tzekos told Tuesday's news conference he had met Patrick Arnold, credited with creating the previously undetectable steroid THG for BALCO, through his nutritional supplement company but had no links with BALCO.

"I knew him a little only in relation to his nutritional supplements activity," said Tzekos, who had a company importing nutritional supplements into Greece.

The sprinters and Tzekos still face a Greek trial over charges they had faked a motorcycle accident hours after the missed drugs test in Athens three years ago.

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