Greek sprinters not facing maximum sentences

Updated: April 5, 2011, 4:29 AM ET
Associated Press

ATHENS, Greece -- Doping-linked Greek sprinters Costas Kenteris and Katerina Thanou won't face maximum sentences if convicted in a perjury trial, under recommendations made in court Tuesday.

The Sydney Olympic medalists are on trial, accused of faking a motorcycle accident on the eve of the Athens Games in 2004 after missing a doping test that led to their sporting suspension. The perjury charge carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison.

Public persecutor Giorgos Petrou urged the court to reduce their sentence if convicted, accusing their coach Christos Tzekos of being primarily responsible.

A panel of three judges is expected to issue its ruling as early as next week.

"Mr. Tzekos orchestrated this accident ... the coach is like a father to the athletes and he is responsible for them," Petrou told the court.

"The claim that an accident took place must be rejected as groundless. The traffic police examined the site where it was reported. They found no evidence to support that this incident took place. They found no debris, no skid marks, no oil -- it never happened."

The 36-year-old Thanou testified in court March 28 after failing to appear on numerous occasions, and maintained her innocence. The 37-year-old Kenteris hasn't appeared but also defended his actions through his lawyer.

The sprinters are on trial together with their coach, seven state hospital doctors accused of breach of duty, and two witnesses to the alleged accident.

All the defendants are in court on misdemeanor charges which typically lead to fines following convictions and, under Greek law, have the automatic right to appeal.

Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press

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