Print and Go Back ESPN.com: Gen [Print without images]

Friday, August 20, 2004
Chanu stripped of fourth-place finish

Associated Press

ATHENS, Greece -- A weightlifter from India and shot putter from Uzbekistan were kicked out of the Athens Olympics on Friday for testing positive for drugs.

India's Sanamacha Chanu and Uzbekistan's Olga Shchukina were disqualified by the International Olympic Committee executive board.

Chanu was stripped of her fourth-place finish in Sunday's 117-pound (53-kilogram) weightlifting competition. Shchukina finished 19th and last in her qualifying group in Wednesday's shot put at Ancient Olympia.

The IOC said Chanu tested positive for furosemide, a banned diuretic which can be used as a masking agent.

Shchukina tested positive in an out-of-competition screening last Saturday for the steroid clenbuterol, the IOC said.

Shchukina claimed she ingested the substance unwittingly in a cough syrup. The IOC found her guilty of a doping offense based on its "strict liability" rule, which holds athletes responsible for any banned substance found in their system.

Chanu is the sixth weightlifter, and second from India, kicked out of the Athens Games.

On Thursday, the international federation suspended Wafa Ammouri of Morocco, Zoltan Kecskes of Hungary, Viktor Chislean of Moldova, Pratima Kumari Na of India and Sule Sahbaz of Turkey. All were caught during pre-Olympics testing.

Earlier, Myanmar's Nan Aye Khine was expelled for steroids after finishing fourth at 105½ pounds (48kg).

Greek weightlifter tests positive

ATHENS, Greece -- Greek weightlifter Leonidas Sampanis, a bronze medalist at the Athens Games, tested positive for drugs in an initial sample -- another drug-related scandal for the host nation.

The International Olympic Committee told Greek officials Friday that an athlete had tested positive. Sampanis' testosterone levels reportedly were abnormally high.

"There is, at this time, a positive sample," Greek weightlifting coach Christos Iakovou told Athens' Antenna television. "This is the bad thing and we must see how it happened. This is what we must find, how it happened.

"Was it because of his own natural testosterone levels? There are many things the doctors must tell us," he said. "It could be natural."

A backup sample is being tested to determine whether the initial findings are accurate.

The Olympics have already been tainted for the Greeks by the case of sprint stars Kostas Kenteris and Katerina Thanou -- both medalists in 2000 -- who withdrew from competition after they missed a drug test and subsequently got into a motorcycle accident that is under investigation.

In the wake of the latest scandal, the head of the Greek Olympic team, Yiannis Papadoyiannakis, resigned from his post for what a spokesman called "reasons of sensitivity." But the resignation was not accepted by the head of the Greek Olympic committee, Lambis Nikolaou.

Sampanis, winner of silver medals at the last two Olympics, finished third on Monday in the 137-pound category. The top four finishers are tested for doping after their performances.

Sampanis has also been a Greek favorite. In competition Monday, the crowd roared with every successful Sampanis lift, then gave him a lengthy standing ovation as he led his young daughter across the platform following the awards ceremony.

Weightlifting has come under heavy scrutiny this week, with competitors disqualified for positive drug tests.

Five weightlifters were suspended on Wednesday for failing tests. Two of them learned they were disqualified as they were about to compete in their events. Another, identified by Indian Olympic officials as Sanamacha Chanu, tested positive during IOC testing.

Weightlifting's regulatory body has cracked down on doping, trying to clean up the sport's tainted image. As a result, 21 world-class weightlifters have been caught or suspended this year alone.