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Olympic bans for tweet, doping

July 25, 2012

With just two days to go before the London Olympics begin, 10 athletes have been removed from the competition. Nine failed doping tests, and the 10th was booted from the Greek team following a controversial tweet.

Greece's Voula Papachristou lands in the sand after her jump at the Women's Triple Jump final at the European Athletics Championships in Helsinki, Finland
Image: AP

The International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) announced on Wednesday that it was issuing bans against nine athletes for doping violations, six of which had been identified using the new Athlete Biological Passport program, used to test athletes at an Olympics for the first time in London.

The Biological Passport measures and monitors an athlete's blood variables over time and establishes an individual profile, which can be analyzed for proof of doping violations.

Four of the athletes - Meryem Erdogan (Turkey), Svetlana Klyuka, Nailiya Yulamanova and Yevgenina Zinurova (all Russia) - admitted to the violations and received a two-year ban.

The marathoner Abderrahim Goumri received a four-year ban from the Moroccan Athletic Federation, which he can appeal. Irini Kokkinariou received a two-year ban from the Greek Athletic Federation. That decision is being appealed by the IAAF to the Court of Arbitration for Sport because the association seeks to impose a four-year ban.

Three other athletes, Inna Eftimova from Bulgaria and the Ukrainians Nataliya Tobias and Antonina Yefremova, were banned after further review of samples taken from the 2011 World Championship in Daegu, South Korea. They all admitted to the violations and have received two-year bans.

Costly tweet

Meanwhile, the triple jumper Paraskevi Papachristou (pictured above) was expelled from Greece's team for tweeting "statements contrary to the values and ideas of the Olympic movement," as the Hellenic Olympic Committee put it.

While Papachristou had already drawn attention with links to videos and websites of the extreme-right Golden Dawn political party, it was a tweet she posted on Sunday that outraged the committee.

Commenting on recent cases of mosquitoes carrying the Nile virus appearing in Athens, she tweeted "With so many Africans in Greece, the West Nile mosquitoes will be getting home food!!!"

Isidoros Kouvelos, the head of the committee, appeared on the TV station Skai and said, "We are not here just to get medals, but to promote the Olympic ideals, to show our character"

Papachristou posted apologetic tweets on Wednesday.

"I would like to express my heartfelt apologies for the unfortunate and tasteless joke I published on my personal Twitter account," she wrote. "I am very sorry and ashamed for the negative responses I triggered, since I never wanted to offend anyone, or to encroach human rights."

mz/mkg (AP, AFP, Reuters)