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OLYMPIC REPORT

WTA Issues Warning, Drops Boycott Threat

August 08, 2004|From Times Staff and Wire Reports

German tennis players Anca Barna and Marlene Weingartner won't be participating in the Athens Olympics, despite lobbying efforts by the Women's Tennis Assn. to change the decision of the German Olympic Committee.

The controversy had sparked a brief boycott threat by angered WTA players. That won't be happening, and ranking points will remain attached for this Olympic event. However, Larry Scott, WTA chairman and chief executive, spoke of future implications.

"I want to make it clear that regarding future Olympic Games, the WTA Tour has decided not to renew our existing Olympic agreement with the ITF [International Tennis Federation]," Scott said in a statement, "and ... the WTA Tour will only entertain a discussion regarding Olympic tennis event ranking points if there is a change in the policies and procedures of the IOC that provides a 100% guarantee that all eligible WTA Tour players based on rankings will be entered in the Olympic tennis event."

Barna and Weingartner qualified, in terms of ranking, but the German Olympic Committee imposed tougher standards -- reaching the semifinal of a Grand Slam event or the final of a Tier I tournament.

"Making the situation even more egregious is the German NOC's decision to make a special exemption for German male tennis player Florian Mayer, without any justification for why they would not make the same exception for Anca Barna and Marlene Weingartner," Scott said.

The players may enter the WTA event in Cincinnati -- the same week as the Olympic tennis tournament -- to earn ranking points.

-- Lisa Dillman

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Irish distance runner Cathal Lombard tested positive for the banned drug EPO and could be suspended for two years, Irish officials said Saturday.

Lombard was scheduled to compete in the 5,000 and 10,000 meters in Athens.

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Jana Pittman of Australia, the women's 400-meter hurdles world champion, was forced to withdraw from the Olympics after injuring her right knee at a meet in Zurich, Switzerland.

Pittman, 21, hurt her right knee on Friday during a warmup exercise.

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A member of the Greek Olympic judo team fell from the third-floor balcony of her Athens apartment after an argument with her boyfriend, leaving her hospitalized in critical condition, authorities said.

Elli Ioannou, 20, was treated for multiple fractures to her head and body, said Yiannis Papadoyiannakis, the head of the Greek team.

Ioannou, a competitor in the 78-kilogram-plus event, had been scheduled to move into the Olympic village with the judo team Wednesday.

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