Greek sprinter stays mum on Olympic medal return

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ATHENS, Oct 9 (Reuters) Greek sprinter Katerina Thanou has told the IOC she does not want to comment on the possibility of being awarded Marion Jones's Sydney Olympics 100 metres gold medal after the American sprinter confessed to doping.

Thanou was second in the race in 2000 but was at the centre of a doping affair hours before the start of the Athens 2004 Olympics. She was forced to withdraw from her home Games and served a consequent two-year ban for doping rule violations.

''Ms Thanou does not want to make any comment on this case and any comment will be made through me,'' her lawyer Gregory Ioannidis told Reuters today. He said he had written a letter to that effect to IOC (International Olympic Committee) President Jacques Rogge.

A lawyer previously associated with Thanou in Greece had said over the weekend she should get the medal as Jones had admitted to drugs use.

''I wish to clarify the situation by stating that the aforementioned person is not Ms Thanou's lawyer, does not have a mandate of representation nor does he have any express or implied authority to speak on behalf of Ms Thanou. His comments do not in any way reflect Ms Thanou's views,'' Ioannidis told Rogge in the letter.

''As this person's comments are highly damaging, we are now carefully monitoring the situation and we are going to take appropriate action to ensure that Ms Thanou's views are not misrepresented in any way.

''I wish to make abundantly clear and without prejudice that Ms Thanou expresses her views only through me and in no way does she desire to comment on the development of Ms Jones' case.'' Jones pleaded guilty to steroid use last week and faces a prison sentence of up to six months for lying to federal investigators.

Yesterday, she accepted a two-year ban and handed back the medals she had won at the Sydney Games to the US Olympic Committee, which in turn will give them to the IOC, who will award them to the appropriate winners.

While never testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs, Thanou and training partner Costas Kenteris were suspended after acknowledging they had missed three drugs tests, the last on the eve of the Athens Olympics.

However, the possibility of Thanou being awarded the gold medal from Sydney has met with resistance from some quarters.

''I'd like to think that Katerina Thanou would not be awarded the gold medal,'' Australian Olympic Committee chief John Coates, who is also an IOC member, said today.

REUTERS PDS VC1812

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