Doping and sports - 2004 Olymics

2004 Olympics

By increasing the doping controls and improving detection techniques of, among other things the growth hormone hGH, the number of positively tested athletes also increased. Under the presidency of Belgian Jacques Rogge (1942-), the IOC made it a point of honor to radiate a pure image.

Until 2004, the USOC and the Italian CONI obscured or defended the doping cases of their athletes. For unknown reasons, both countries suddenly dropped this support for their athletes and they too joined a close international fight against doping. The many scandals that marred the Athens Olympics were living proof of this. Twelve athletes tested positive and six of them had to hand in a medal. Greece even removed two top sprinters from the list of participants three days before the start of the Games, because they did not show up for a doping test with a murky story about a traffic accident.

On August 3, 2004, ten days before the start of the Olympics, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) added tetrahydrogestrinone (THG) and Modafinil to the list of prohibited substances.

Caught before the start

Four days before the opening ceremony, host country Greece had to recognize that two selected baseball players had been caught using performance-enhancing drugs.

What made the disaster more bearable was that the two lived in the United States. Wealthy Greek-American lawyer Peter Angelos (1929-), owner of the Baltimore Orioles baseball club, had invited them to join the Greek baseball team that he had sponsored.

Andrew James Brack (1977-) from the New Haven County Cutters tested positive for anabolics, with Derek Nicholson (1976-) from the Toledo Mud Hens diuretics were found

"The fact that we are talking about doping here is very sad," said Yiannis Papadoyiannakis, chief of the Greek Olympic team.

A bad start for the Helenes, but it got worse. Medal candidates Katerina Thanou (1975-) and Kostas Kenteris (1973-) were not even allowed to take part in Athens. Kenteris had won the gold medal at the 200m four years earlier in Sydney, Thanou then won the silver medal at the 100m.

Before the start of the first series of the 200m, Namibian Frankie Fredericks (1967-) had to calm down the Greek public when it was announced that Kenteris was not allowed to defend his title. Just before the Games, both had avoided a doping test. They claimed they had a motorcycle accident and even had to be admitted to a hospital. After Chicago and Tel Aviv it was the third time they didn't show up for a control. And refusing or avoiding a doping test is equivalent to a positive test. Moreover, everything turned out to be fake, research showed that the owner of a newspaper kiosk had not seen an accident at all at the so-called accident site that day. Moreover, no report had been received by the police and, to top it all, the two had not presented themselves in the nearby hospital, but had driven to the other side of Athens for 'care'.

The main organizer of this event was trainer Christos Tzekos, with whom the Greek police found 1,400 packs of anabolics and other prohibited products during a house search. Both Kenteris and Thanou were suspended for two years.

When Thanou prepared herself for the 60m final at her European Championship indoor in Birmingham, she was booed for minutes by the audience. The trial by the Greek state against both was delayed twice, but due to perjury they were sentenced to 31 months in prison in May 2011. Trainer Tzekos got 33 months and the six doctors and two witnesses, who had seen the so-called accident happen, were sentenced to six months in prison.

"We will fully cooperate with WADA," Papadoyiannakis said, "the Greek team will be punished hard if we will find doping."


After testing positive for EPO after the Spanish mountain bike championship, Janet Puiggros Miranda (1974-) was no longer welcome at the Athens Games.

A few days before the start of the Olympics, former world champion Oscar Camenzind (1971-) tested positive for EPO, after which the Swiss immediately put an end to his cycling career.

Just before the Games, Belgian Filip Meirhaeghe (1971-) admitted that he had used EPO, as a result of which he was not allowed to defend his silver medal four years earlier. During the World Cup in Montreal, Canada, he had tested positive for EPO and received a 15-month suspension. He later published the book "Positive", in which he explained his doping story.


Spaniard Jovino Gonzales (1975-) tested positive for EPO just before the Games and had to give up his Olympic dreams.

Track and field

On the eve of the Games, Irish distance runner Cathal Lombard (1976-) was caught using EPO and as a result he was not allowed to to particpate at the Olympiad. The verdict was two years in suspension, but the Irishman came back afterwards and in 2007 won the cross-course of Cork in a "pure manner".

In the United States, the doping scandal erupted around BALCO, the lab that provided athletes with the anabolic steroid tetrahydrogestrinone, which prevented Torri Edwards (1977-), the 100m world champion, from taking part in Athens. After the meeting in Martinique, she had delivered on 24 April a positive test on nikethamide. After her suspension, she became a second-time American champion in the 100m in 2007 and the following year she finished eighth in the final of that 100m during the Beijing Olympics.

American 400-meter runner Jerome Young (1976-) was caught using EPO a few weeks before the Games. It was not his first mistake. Four years earlier at the Sydney Games he had won the gold medal with the American 4 x 400m team, but afterwards he had to surrender that medal when it turned out that he should not even have been allowed to start due to doping. He received two years of suspension and all his results from June 1999 to June 2001 were canceled. His teammates were allowed to keep their medal. Because this was now his second offense, Young now got a life sentence and was allowed to delete the Athens Games from his agenda.

With the Jamaican sprinter Steve Mullings (1982-) a too high testosterone level was noted after the 200m national championship, for which he was suspended for two years. In 2011 he was caught during the national championships on the use of the masking agent Furosemide and he got life suspension.


In 2004, 21 so called "world class" weightlifters were caught or suspended.

"You will certainly ask me" Why do you do these checks? You are digging your own grave," said Hungarian IWF President Tamas Ajan (1939-) to the assembled press. "That is true, but you can rest assured that we will continue to do everything we can to combat doping, because we are just for fair play."

The news was very well received by the Belgian IOC president Jacques Rogge (1942-):

"The IOC commends the work of the IWF to systematically test its athletes in its fight against doping."

The IWF mentioned the names of the suspended: Wafa Ammouri (1985-) from Morocco, Zoltan Kecskes (1974-) from Hungary, Viktor Chislean (1980-) from Moldova, Pratima Kumari Na (1974-) from India and Sule Sahbaz (1978 -) from Turkey.

A few days before the opening ceremony in Athens, Bulgaria withdrew its entire weightlifting team due to doping problems. Eight men and three women had tested positive for steroids earlier that month: Ivaylo Filev (1987-), Demir Demirev (1984-), Mehmed Fikretov (1986-), Ivan Stoitsov (1985-), Georgi Markov (1978-), Ivan Markov (1988-), Alan Tsagaev (1977-), Velichko Cholakov (1982-), Milka Maneva (1985-), Donka Mincheva (1973-) and Gergana Kirilova (1972-).

Normally one is suspended for two years, unless the athlete is a repeat offender. Galabin Boevski (1974-), in 2000 Olympic champion in the lightweights, was caught for the second time and got eight years suspension. In 2011, in São Paulo, Brazil, the Bulgarian was arrested when he wanted to smuggle nine kilos of cocaine on board an aircraft, which resulted in nine years of imprisonment. In 2013, however, he was released and flown back to home country Bulgaria.

Two teammates from Boevski, former world champions Zlatan Vanev (1973-) and Georgi Markov (1978-) were suspended for eighteen months and had to forget Athens. The three Bulgarians had tampered with their doping tests at the 2003 World Cup in Vancouver, the urine they delivered came from one and the same person but certainly not from them. Together with ten compatriots, Markov tested positive for anabolic steroids in 2008, which is why he was not selected for the Beijing Games, but was suspended for life.

At the 2003 World Cup in Vancouver, eleven weightlifters from ten different countries failed during the doping controls, forcing them to forget the Athens Games. Among them Chinese Shang Shichun (1979-), who set three world records in the category up to 75 kg on the way to the gold medal. She was suspended for two years.

During her training camp in Sigatoka on the Fiji Islands, Australian Caroline Pileggi (1977-) became involved in an incident. Two inspectors from the Australian Sports Drug Agency approached her during a training, at which the Australian replicated that she "was not interested in undergoing a doping test." Moreover, she gave a false name, then she tried to flee, almost knocking over the inspectors with her car. Before the Court Pileggi claimed that the two had never identified themselves and that she had fled in fear when the two followed her. To no avail, she was excluded from the Australian team, had to pay the costs of the proceedings and was suspended for two years.

Months before the Games, many medal candidates were caught doping and therefore excluded from participation. The Pole Szymon Kolecki (1981-), still silver medalist in Sydney four years before, was caught using Nandrolone and was suspended for two years. But he returned and won silver in Beijing at the 2008 Games. Because the Kazakh winner Ilya Illyin (1988-) turned out to be positive in retesting the samples in 2016, Kolecki even received the gold medal.

A few months before the Games Indian S. Sunaina (1980-) tested positive for nandrolone during the Asian Games in Almaty, Kazakhstan. She received a two-year suspension, had to surrender her two bronze medals and, of course, could give up her Olympic dreams.

Another Indian Pratima Kumari (1976-) won the gold medal twice in the category up to 63kg during the 2002 Commonwealth Games in Manchester, UK. But with an unannounced doping test shortly before the Athens Games, she was caught using testosterone, which earned her two years of suspension.

Turkish 2002 world champion in the category up to 75 kg Sule Sahbaz (1978-) tested positive for prohibited products the day before her competition and could  therefore forget Olympic success.

During the Games


After a positive test out of competition, the IOC sent bantamweight David Munyasia (1980-) home. The inspectors found 20 µg/ml cathine in the urine of the Kenyan boxer, or four times more than the permitted limit. He admitted that he regularly uses qat, a popular stimulant from Kenya, whose leaves are chewed. He received a two-year suspension.


María Luisa Calle Williams (1968-) was the first Colombian cyclist to win an Olympic medal. After the points race, however, she peed positively on Heptaminol and had to hand in the bronze medal. After it turned out that the check had been carried out poorly, she received her medal back. During the Pan American Games in July 2015, however, she tested positive for growth hormone GHRP2 and that meant four years of suspension.


Ludger Beerbaum (1963-) with his horse Goldfever won the gold medal with the German jumping team, but the check afterwards revealed traces of betamethasone in the mount. Beerbaum argued that the substance was present in an ointment that had been applied to the horse for skin irritation. The German team, however, had to surrender its medals.


Olena Olefirenko (1978 -), was disqualified together with her Ukrainian team mates of the double four,  when she tested positive for ethamivan. The foursome had to hand in the bronze medal.

Track and Field

Uzbek Olga Shchukina (1977-) was excluded from the shot put after a positive check for Clenbutorol and was suspended for two years.

Belarusian high jumper Aleksey Lesnichyi (1978-) was banned from the Games after a positive test for Clenbuterol. This had no influence on the result because he finished last in the qualifications.

Ukrainian Oleksandr Kajdasch (1976-) ran both the 400 and the 4 x 400 m. After he was caught using Norandrosteron, he was suspended for two years

Greek athlete Hhristoforos Hoidis (1978-) was registered for the 100m, but left when he was selected for a doping test. It earned him a two-year suspension.

Slovakian shot putter Milan Haborák (1973-), who for the first time threw more than 20 meters in 2000, had been on anabolics which resulted in a two-year suspension. In 2010 he was again caught on steroids and that meant a lifelong suspension. He then plunged into politics and even made it to vice-president of the Hnutie Vpred party.

After winning the gold medal in shot put, Russian Irina Korzhanenko (1974-) reacted positive on Stanozolol, forcing her to surrender her medal. That had happened once before at the European Indoor Championships in 1999 and that is why she was given life suspension. Despite the pressure exerted by the Russian Athletics Federation, she refused to surrender the medal because she had never been allowed to defend herself.

Also Hungarian discus thrower Robert Fazekas (1975-) had to surrender his gold medal, when it turned out that he had tampered with his urine during the doping test. He delivered only 25 ml, 50 ml less than the minimum, with the excuse that he "felt psychologically unstable and bad" and therefore could not pee a larger volume. The threat that he would be taken to a hospital for a sample and that he was considered a sinner with his minimum amount did not help. Fazekas refused the offer and the Hungarian delegation defended him with the excuse that he was a deeply religious person, who always had problems if he had to urinate under supervision. The IOC then threw him out of the Olympic village and suspended him for two years. Later it turned out that he had not even delivered his own urine.

After serving his sentence, Fazekas resumed his career and was selected for the 2012 Games. But two days before the start, the Hungarian tested positive for stanazolol, which he also publicly admitted but whose cause he attributed to a dietary supplement. An Austrian lab investigated the dietary supplement and agreed with Fazekas, which reduced his suspension from eight to three years. He dragged the Canadian company to court.

The Hungarian hammer thrower Adrian Annus (1973-) also had to surrender his gold medal. It was discovered that the urine delivered came from three different people. Immediately after the game, he had already refused a doping test and that alone was sufficient for disqualification. Annus was suspended for two years. The problem was that he did not want to surrender his medal, that only happened after the IOC put pressure on the Hungarian Olympic committee.

After a positive test on Stanozolol, Russian 400-meter runner Anton Galkin (1982-) was sent out of the Olympic village

After a positive test for nandrolone, Romanian discus thrower Sergiu Ursu (1980-) was suspended for two years. During a non-competitive check, he tested positive for Norandrosteron in 2013, which again earned him two years of suspension

Ukrainian sprint star Zjana Block-Tarnopolska (1972-) ran the 100 and the 4 x 100m but was accused by Victor Conte (1950-); apparently she was also involved in the BALCO scandal, so that all her results from November 2002 were retroactively canceled. Her husband and coach Mark Block received a 10-year suspension because he had supplied her with the doping.

American Duane Ross (1972-) ran the 110m hurdles. He was also a BALCO customer and after the proof of 2010 all his achievements from November 2001 were canceled.


Mital Sharipov (1972-) from Kyrgyzstan was allowed to wear his national flag during the opening ceremony, but was sent home afterwards because he had been on the furosemide.

Greek Leonidas Sampanis (1971-) got the bronze medal in the category up to 62 kg, but was caught using testosterone. He was the first but certainly not the last weightlifter who peed positive at these Games.

The Greeks were so angry that the Greek Post withdrew 136,000 stamps with his image. A Greek court also sentenced him to six months in prison.

Indian Sanamacha Chanu (1978-) also had to leave the Olympic village. At the Commonwealth Games in Manchester, England, she had won gold three times in the category up to 53 kg, but then she was caught using methylhexanamine. Because Athens was her second positive test, she received a lifelong suspension.

Nan Aye Khine (1976-) from Burma in the category up to 48 kg could pack her bags after a positive pee on anabolica.

Just before the competition started in the 75 kg category, Russian Albina Khomich (1976-) tested positive for anabolic steroids and was excluded.

Hungarian Ferenc Gyurkovics (1979-) had to hand in his silver medal and was sent home when he was caught using the steroid Oxandrolone during the Games.

Because he was unable or unwilling to deliver a pee, Hungarian Zoltan Kovacs (1977-) was banned from the Games, even though he finished last in the category up to 105 kg.

Russian Oleg Perepetchenov (1975-) won the bronze medal in the category up to 77kg, but in 2013 new test methods showed that he had done that with the help of Clenbuterol. His name was therefore deleted from the lists.


Mabel Fonseca (1972-) from Puerto Rico finished fifth in the category up to 55 kg, but tested positive for Stanozolol and was therefore excluded.

After the Games


American Tyler Hamilton (1971-) won the time trial, but he later admitted the use of doping and handed in his medal.

Track and Field

The fastest man in the world Justin Gatlin (1982-) became 100m Olympic champion after beating the Portuguese Francis Obikwelu (1978-) and  countryman Maurice Green (1974-). The American stated after that fastest Olympic final ever (six of the eight finalists under 10 seconds):

"I am the role model of a new era."

Two years later, however, it became clear that Gatlin, too, had not run "clean": handing in the gold medal and eight years of suspension was the verdict of the IOC. It was not the first time for Gatlin, in 2001 he had already been caught using amphetamines as a junior.

In 2006 his blood levels showed a too high testosterone level after a competition in Lawrence, Kansas. He was only suspended for eight years and not for life, because he promised to cooperate in the anti-doping investigation. His equalization of the world record on May 12, 2006 in Doha, was removed from the lists. In 2007, Gatlin's suspension was reduced from eight to four years.

Gatlin was coached by Trevor Graham (1963-), of whom eight other disciples tested positive over the years. He was involved in the BALCO scandal, where he first wanted to act as a whistleblower. Later it turned out that he tried to hit the competitors of his pupils. In July 2008, he was banned from the sports grounds for life and a few months later sentenced to house arrest for perjury.

Crystal Cox (1979-) won the 4 x 400m with the American relay team. In 2010, during an interview with the American TV channel ESPN, she admitted that she had used the anabolic steroid from the company BALCO from 2001 to 2004. As a result, she lost all the titles she had obtained in that period, including the gold of Athens, and was suspended for four years with retroactive effect.

Belarusian hammer thrower Ivan Tsikhan (1976-) had to hand in his silver medal after traces of methandienone were found in 2012 when the samples were retested.

After the Olympic bronze medal in 2000, Belarusian discus thrower Iryna Yatchenko (1965-) again finished in third place. A new analysis with improved techniques in 2012 showed that she had used prohibited substances and so she had to hand in the medal.

Russian Olga Kuzenkova (1970-) won the hammer throw. When the IOC re-examined her urine sample in 2012 with new detection techniques, it turned out that she owed that gold to anabolic steroids. The urine samples from the 2005 World Cup were also positive. She was suspended for two years, had to surrender her Olympic gold medal and lost the world title.

Also Russian shot putter Svetlana Krivelyova (1969-) had to hand in her bronze medal of Athens in 2012 after a new test. She was suspended for two years and all results achieved between 2004 and 2006 were annulled.

Ukrainian Jurij Bilonoh (1974-) won the shot put final, but in 2012 more modern testing methods demonstrated an Oxandrolone metabolite in his urine. He was suspended retroactively for two years and he was deprived of all results, including the Olympic title.