11 out of a total of 14 members of the Greek Olympic weightlifting team have tested positive for banned substances according to the BBC (see here for story). The story came to light after a surprise check by WADA (World Anti-Doping Agency) that took place in Agia Kosmas on 7 March just before the national team' departure for Germany.
Christos Iakovou, the team coach has been suspended by the Hellenic Weightlifting Federation and has handed in his resignation. It should be noted that since Iakovou took charge of the team for the 1992 Barcleona Olympics Greece has won 12 medals, including five golds.
If the athletes also test positive in the second round of tests then the Greek team risks being excluded from both the Beijing Olympic games and the European weightlifting championship in Italy in two weeks time.
The Hellenic Weightlifting Federation issued the following announcement;
The Hellenic Weightlifting Federation announces that in a sudden doping check carried out by WADA under the orders of the IWF, out of competition, 7 March 2008, 11 out of the 14 samples taken from male and female Greek athletes were found positive. An examination of the B samples will be sought exactly in accordance with regulations. Consequently, the governing board will convene a special committee of enquiry in order to examine the issue. "
According to reports by NET channel the remaining three athletes were not present at the training sessions due to injury.
The magnitude of the scandal raises questions over why neither the Hellenic Weightlifting Federation nor the Hellenic Council Against Doping have not found evidence of illegal substance use earlier. Kostas Natsis, honourary president of the Sports Medicine Association of Greece argued that the country is the world's number one user of anabolic steroids when interviewed yesterday on Greek TV.
However, Greek officials interviewed by the state run NET channel have argued the the positive results were caused by the Greek team's use of Chinese Aminoxl, which they claim is not forbidden.