<
>

Eleven of 14 members of Greek team fail tests; coach resigns

ATHENS, Greece -- Eleven members of the Greek
national weightlifting team have tested positive for banned
substances, the Greek Weightlifting Federation said on Friday.

The federation said it would test the "B" samples before
setting up a special committee to investigate the issue
affecting the majority of the team.

"In surprise out-of-competition tests run by WADA [World
Anti-Doping Agency] on the orders of the International
Weightlifting Federation, the 'A' samples of 11 [out of 14]
athletes turned out positive," it said in a statement.

Names of the athletes were not released pending confirmation of the "A" tests from March 7. One federation official said that of those who tested positive, five were
men and six were women.

The federation said national coach Christos Iacovou,
credited with a big weightlifting medals haul at recent
Olympics, had handed in his resignation and had been suspended
pending the investigation.

Since the 1992 Barcelona Games, Greece has won 12 Olympic
medals, including five golds, in weightlifting. Before Barcelona
the country had not won a weightlifting medal since the 1904
Games.

Iacovou, a former weightlifter himself, has been in charge
of the national team since the Barcelona Games.

A federation official, speaking on condition of anonymity,
said the whole Greek team could now be disqualified from the
Beijing Olympics.

"Given the very large number of positive tests, and if the B
samples are positive as well, then the team as a whole could be
banned from competing in the Beijing Games," the federation
official said.