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  • Greek Doping and New Equine Doping Controls


    Riders will be held accountable for positive doping tests on horses. (Getty Images)
    Weightlifting Coach at Fault Says Greek Federation

    Coach Christos Iakovou is to blame for a doping scandal involving 11 members of the Greek national team, says the head of the Greek weightlifting federation.

    "Mr. Iakovou acted on his own initiative, without informing the federation, and acknowledges himself that he did not follow the proper procurement procedure. Responsibility for this falls on the national coach," federation secretary Vassilis Gerakaris told AP.

    Iakovou blamed a Chinese manufacturer for sending the wrong drugs, but the Chinese have denied any wrongdoing.

    In response to the scandal, Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis pledged to pass amendments within 10 days to strengthen Greek doping laws.

    New Equine Doping Controls

    At the 2004 Games in Athens, the IOC stripped three gold medalists of their titles because of horse doping. The International Equine Federation will try to avoid that shame again by increasing testing and holding riders responsible for enhanced animals.

    "Athens was really a bad moment for the sport. It was a big problem and it was very spectacular," FEI spokeswoman Malina Gueorguiev is quoted by AP.

    In Beijing, urine samples will be taken from the three leading horses and the rest of the field will be tested randomly. Gueorgiev said the FEI plans 50 to 60 tests from 200 horses.

    In compliance with the WADA code, any horse that tests positive will be provisionally suspended, along with its rider.
    Mark Spitz clowns around at the Laureus Sports Awards in St. Petersburg, Russia on Feb. 18. (Getty Images)


    The London marathon, one of the last before Beijing, will take place on April 13. Five Kenyans who will compete in the Olympics, including two-time London marathon winner Martin Lel will compete. This race marks the 100th anniversary of the modern distance marathon - 26 miles, 365 yards - first run at the 1908 London Olympics.

    VIPs at the Beijing Games will be able to navigate the city using SmartTrans' EventTrack system, which made travelling easier during the Sydney Games. Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd helped launch the system Thursday. "It's built to run on a mobile phone, and allows the security of the delegates when people arrive and get off the plane in Beijing, if they have one of these phones, they will feel comfortable. They can go to the hotel, as they can see their hotel location on the map. And if there is any request, they can use our tool system," said SmartTrans CEO Bryan Carr. China expects to accommodate some 40,000 VIPs.

    Mark Spitz: The Extraordinary Life of an Olympic Champion will be released on July 1, 2008. The biography will detail his early life, dominating performance in the 1972 Games in Munich, and dealing with anti-Semitism as an athlete.

    American professional basketball standout Becky Hammon signed to play with the Russian national team team Tuesday after being left out of the pool for the U.S. women's team. "I'm going where they really want me, and where I have an opportunity to win a medal," said Hammon. She also plays professionally in Russia and received her passport two weeks ago.

    Taekwondo athletes Steve, Mark and Diana Lopez will be the first trio of siblings to compete for the U.S. since 1904. The Lopezes will attempt better results than gymnasts Edward, Richard and William Tritschler, who finished in the middle of the pack. Mark and Diana qualified at the USA Taekwondo Olympic trials in Des Moines, Iowa on April 5, while Steven made the team in September. All three are coached by their older brother Jean.

    Diego Hypolito, a 21-year-old Brazilian gymnast and two-time world champion, was diagnosed with dengue fever and released from the hospital Tuesday. "My recovery process will continue from home. I'm optimistic. A mosquito will not get in the way of my preparation for the Olympics Games in Beijing," he told AP.
    Steven, Diana, Mark, and Jean Lopez after the Taekwondo Olympic trials on April 5 in Des Moines, Iowa. (Getty Images)

    Four short course records have already been set by swimmers wearing the Speedo LZR suit at the FINA World Swimming Championships (25m). "I wouldn?t be surprised to see every world record broken at the Games, and hopefully we'll get a big percentage of those," United States coach Mark Schubert told AP. Speedo is the official U.S. swim sponsor.

    Canadian Olympian Sara Renner joined nearly 250 other advocates for training on how to prevent climate change by former US Vice President Al Gore. The representatives will give presentations across the country to educate other Canadians about the hazards of global warming. Renner's first talk will be on Earth Day at the Banff Public Library. "Ski racing aside, I am a mother, and I want to share our beautiful world with my daughter. As an Albertan, we have a huge responsibility to move from being part of the problem to part of the solution. My challenge will be to convince Canadians that this is a race we cannot afford to lose," she said.

    Written by Eric Connelly

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