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olympic doping lab charged with destroying samples


ATHENS, Greece Dec 20, 2004 — An Olympic doping laboratory was charged Monday with destroying a sample that belonged to gold medalist cyclist Tyler Hamilton.

Prosecutors charged "unknown perpetrators" with destroying a backup sample of the U.S. rider's blood.

After winning his event at the Athens Games, Hamilton took a doping test, and an initial sample and backup sample were kept by the lab. A test of the initial sample showed evidence of a blood transfusion, but the case against Hamilton was dropped after his backup sample was frozen, leaving too few red blood cells to analyze. Hamilton tested positive again at a September race, with both samples confirming the result. He has questioned the reliability of the testing system for blood doping, which boosts endurance by raising the level of oxygen-carrying red blood cells.


Prosecutors also charged Greek weightlifter Leonidas Sampanis with taking banned substances during the Olympics. Sampanis was stripped of his bronze medal in the 137-pound category after a drug test showed an abnormally high level of testosterone. He faces a single misdemeanor charge.

The prosecutors are Spyros Mouzakitis and Athena Theodoropoulou, who are involved in a number of doping cases related to the Athens Olympics. Among them is the case against Greek sprinters Kostas Kenteris and Katerina Thanou. The two were charged last month with avoiding a drug test and faking a motorcycle accident hours later.

On Friday, Kenteris and Thanou submitted written explanations to the International Association of Athletics Federations on why they missed drug tests on the eve of the Olympics. The IAAF said it would decide by the end of the month whether the explanations were acceptable.