Claims made yesterday by the Greek Olympic weightlifting team's coach that a mix up in dietary supplements by their Chinese supplier was reason why 11 out of the 14 members of the team tested positive in a surprise doping test are coming under fire by large sections of the Greek media.
After a out of competition raid by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) on 7 March traces of methytrelione, an anabolic substance 1000 times more powerful than testosterone were found, according to the Greek Nea newspaper. However, yesterday, Mixalis Dimitrakoploulos, lawyer for Greek weightlifting coach, Christos Iakovou, claimed that the results had been caused by a mistake in the order sent the team's dietary supplements by the Shanghai based, Auspure Life Sciences Co. Mr Dimitrakopoulos has claimed that the company involved has sent an email apologising for the "tragic mistake".
However, the email has raised more questions than it answers since it makes no direct mention of the banned substance nor has any reference to its recipient. Only the name Su Li was mentioned without any reference to the position this person holds in the company. Mr Dimitrakopoulos, in a press conference reported in the NEA newspaper, repeatedly refused to name the person, who is simply referred to as "Dear Customer" in the email.
The Greek national pharmaceutical organisation (EOF) has also cast doubts on the claims of a mix - up arguing that if the company had included highly toxic substances such as methytrelione in their dietary supplements they would have been obliged to send out an international alert and start a product recall.
Also a search of the headquarters of the Greek Weightlifting Federation in Athens by the Hellenic anti - doping organisation, ESKAN failed to find any official documentation showing that the supplements had passed through Greek custom checks nor any signs of its packaging. This raises the question of why a supplement readily available in Greece was instead illegally imported from China
According to in.gr the Greek team has not given up hopes of still taking part in the Olympics in August. There is hope that the IWF (International Weightlifting Federation) will follow the precedent set in Iran in 2006 when nine of the national team's eleven members were tested positive in a doping test. However, the country's top weightlifter, Hossein Rezazadeh, who tested clean was allowed to compete in the Dominican Republic a few days afterwards. Such a possibility would allow up and coming Greek weightlifter, Nikos Kourtidis to compete in Beijing.