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ATHENS 2004 | REPORT

Kenteris Proclaims His Innocence

August 18, 2004|From Associated Press

Sprinter Costas Kenteris declared himself innocent as he left an Athens hospital Tuesday, facing questions from prosecutors, fellow Greeks and the International Olympic Committee about his missed drug test and motorcycle accident.

"I am suffering a great injustice, and I want to say I never used banned substances," Kenteris said as he quickly walked through dozens of reporters, got into a car and was driven away by a friend.

Sprinter Katerina Thanou, his training partner, left a few minutes later, declining to discuss their case until the IOC rules on it.

The track stars have a hearing today with an IOC disciplinary committee, which wants to know if and why they missed drug tests in the Olympic village Thursday.

A few hours later, the sprinters were taken to a hospital with cuts and bruises suffered when their motorcycle reportedly skidded on a road.

The city's chief prosecutor opened an investigation into the accident Monday to find out whether it was part of an attempt to cover up the missed drug tests. Prosecutors plan to take statements from the sprinters and examine their injuries.

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American medal hopeful Jennie Reed said she didn't plan to race in the 500-meter time trial when cycling's track competition opens Friday.

Reed said skipping the event was the best way to ensure nothing disrupted her training for the women's sprint competition, which opens Sunday. She'll be among the medal favorites.

USA Cycling won't be able to replace Reed in the time trial.

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A judge rejected a request by a Greek civil rights group to ground a security airship patrolling Athens during the Olympics.

Judge Maria Klonari said the 200-foot blimp -- laden with cameras, chemical "sniffers" and other sensors -- was being monitored by Greece's independent Data Protection Authority and did not violate privacy rights.

The airship is part of Athens' Olympic security system that is costing Greece $1.5 billion.

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