Greece: Athletes Kenteris and Thanou guilty of perjury

Kostas Kenteris and Katerina Thanou
Image caption Kostas Kenteris and Katerina Thanou had both denied wrongdoing

A court in Greece has sentenced two Greek sprinters to suspended jail sentences for staging a motorcycle crash to avoid a doping test.

Kostas Kenteris and Katerina Thanou were found guilty of perjury and sentenced to 31 months each.

Their coach, Christos Tzekos, was sentenced to 33 months. All were expected to appeal.

The sprinters had said an accident caused them to miss a drugs test on the eve of the 2004 Olympics in Athens.

Judge Dimitris Lefkos said the crash had never occurred.

Two witnesses to the supposed crash and several doctors who treated the athletes in hospital were given shorter sentences.

During the trial the former sprinters had denied wrongdoing, as had Tzekos, who was accused of supplying banned substances.

After they were found guilty of perjury, Kenteris's lawyer Michalis Dimitrakopoulos denounced the verdict.

He was quoted as saying by the Associated Press news agency: "It is simply unbelievable to refuse any mitigating circumstances to Olympic champions. That is granted to drug dealers and felons."

Kenteris, 37, won gold in the 200m at the Sydney Olympics in 2000. At the same Games Thanou, 36, won silver in the 100m.

Their long-postponed trial began in January, after which it suffered further delays.

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