IAAF playing a delaying game over recalled medals?
There is a shroud of controversy over the delaying of handing over the respective gold and silver medals by the IOC to Greek athlete Katerina Thanou and Sri Lankan Susanthika Jayasinghe after American sprinter Marion Jones admitted to having used banned peformance enhancing substances when she ran the year 2000 – 200 metres women’s sprint final at the Sydney Olympics, which she won.
In that event Thanou piped Jayasinghe to take the ‘silver’ medal while the latter won the ‘bronze’. However once Jones’ admittance was known and the medals were withdrawn the speculation was that it was only a matter of time that Thanou and Jayasinghe would be up graded in their positions automatically.
Earlier this month, Thanou challenged the IOC saying that she would be seeking legal assistance if she was not handed over the gold medal which was recalled from Jones.
Last week Susanthika was elevated to a position among the first 15 in the women’s 200 metres event in the world. At the same time every athlete is notified to submit a whereabouts form about all their movements for the scrutiny of the IAAF.
Closely following the Thanou threat, two members of the IAAF anti doping unit were in Sri Lanka to meet M/s Jayasinghe – the 17th of December which was her 32nd birthday. Going by her whereabouts schedule the agents went to the location where she was scheduled to be training but she could not be located. Then she was missing at her residence too. However a local official pointed out that it was her birthday and she may have gone back to her village. However she was soon located and urine samples were taken and sent to Malaysia.
Like Jones, both Thanou and Jayasinghe also have had their own brushes with drug accusations. In 2004 for the Summer Olympics, Thanou was one of the main hopes of her home fan base, but on the day prior to the opening ceremony, Thanou and her training partner Konstantinos Kenteris failed to attend a drugs test, and later the same night were hospitalised, claiming they had both been injured in a motorcycle accident.
In the ensuing doping scandal, Kenteris and Thanou announced their withdrawal from the Games on August 18, the same year, after a hearing before the Disciplinary Commission of the IOC, and an official Greek investigation into their alleged accident, which was ruled that it had been staged. Their coach Christos Tsekos was also suspended and was later caught with large amounts of steroids and other drugs in his possession.
The missed test in Athens was the duo's third violation of the summer and they were consequently suspended by the IAAF on 22 December 2004. After a long legal battle, on 26 June 2006 before the Court of Arbitration for Sport, the Greek athletes accepted anti-doping rule violations of 3 missed tests between 27 July and 12 August 2004. They became eligible to compete again on 22 December 2006.
In April 1998 Susanthika was suspended from competition for failing a drug test that she claimed to have been rigged owing to political reasons. She was later cleared of the drug charges.