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Thursday, August 26, 2004
Thrower chooses retirement over questions

Associated Press

ATHENS, Greece -- The Ukrainian four-woman rowing team was stripped of its bronze medal Thursday after one member tested positive for a banned drug, the IOC said.

It was the fourth medal lost because of doping during the Athens Games.

A weightlifter from Hungary also was expelled from the games on Thursday for failing to provide a urine sample after his event, the International Olympic Committee said.

Zoltan Kovacs, who finished last in the 105-kilogram class, became the 10th weightlifter punished for doping.

Three medals have been stripped in the last four days because of doping violations. Hungary's Robert Fazekas lost his gold in the discus and Russian Irina Korzhanenko lost her gold medal in shot put.

Olena Olefirenko was part of Ukraine's four-woman crew that finished third in lightweight sculls on Sunday. Australia finished fourth and will now get the bronze. Germany won the gold and Britain took the silver.

Olefirenko was given Instenon, which contained the banned substance ethamivan, by her team doctor, the IOC said. Olefirenko reported that she took the drug when she was tested after the race, but didn't realize it was banned.

"She had listed the product believing in good faith it was something permitted and there was no way she could be aware it contained a prohibited substance," said Denis Oswald, president of the International Rowing Federation and an IOC executive board member.

If one member of a rowing crew fails a drug test, the entire crew loses the medal.

"Because of a mistake of a doctor, four innocent athletes lose their medal," Oswald said.

He said the rowing federation would probably not take any action against the rower, but has been asked by the IOC to consider sanctions against the doctor, Ganna Gryshchenko.

Annus takes retirement route

BUDAPEST, Hungary -- Under suspicion of doping, Olympic hammer throw champion Adrian Annus retired from sports Thursday rather than deal with what he called a campaign to manipulate test results against him.

"I'm putting an end to my career," the 31-year-old Annus told the state-run news agency MTI in a statement. "It isn't worth going through all this even for an Olympic champion's title."

International Olympic Committee officials told The Associated Press that Annus passed a drug test after winning the hammer throw Sunday, but doping control officials have been trying to track him down since then for further testing.

The IOC wants to find out whether he provided his own urine for the test or whether he tried to beat the screening system as teammate and discus gold medalist Robert Fazekas allegedly did, the officials said on condition of anonymity.

Fazekas lost his gold medal after Olympic authorities said he failed to provide enough urine for a drug test, a charge Fazekas disputes.

Regardless of his retirement, Annus remains under the jurisdiction of IOC doping rules through the end of the games Sunday. If found guilty of a doping offense by then, he would also lose his medal.

Annus accused World Anti-Doping Agency officials of starting a campaign against him after they allegedly received an anonymous letter from Hungary naming athletes suspected of taking drugs.

"What guarantee is there that if I give another sample it will produce a result that matches reality?" Annus said. "I'm not going to allow them to manipulate the sample ... that's what this is all about, I can't see any other reason for it."

"I'm being treated like a criminal."

As for Fazekas, the Hungarian Olympic Committee asked the IOC on Thursday to analyze the urine sample he did provide because "Fazekas finds it very difficult to accept his disqualification."

After returning to Hungary on Thursday, Fazekas again denied the doping accusations and vowed to win gold again at the next Olympics in 2008.

"I'm going to get the gold back at the Beijing Olympics," Fazekas told reporters in his home town of Szombathely, 130 miles west of Budapest.

"The whole procedure for taking the samples was extraordinarily humiliating," Fazekas said, claiming the sample he gave was five times more than the minimum necessary for testing for drugs.

Meanwhile, the IOC asked the Hungarian committee to inform them Thursday of Annus' whereabouts.

Although he traveled home with Fazekas from Athens, Annus did not appear at the news conference in Szombathely. In his letter to media, Annus said he would talk more about his decision next week.

Pal T. Gabor, a spokesman for the two atheletes, told journalists that Annus had received no official request from Olympic authorities for a test and was now at home with his family.

"The authorities know where to find him," he said.