31 Oct 2009

Greek embarrassment over banned athlete's torch relay

6:55 am on 31 October 2009

Greek officials were left red-faced after it became known former Olympic champion Fani Halkia, banned for doping, had run a leg of the Vancouver 2010 Winter Games torch relay in Greece.

The Greek Association of Olympic winners, who had included Halkia on a list of proposed torchbearers sent to the Greek Olympic Committee, say the blunder was down to human error.

It was not clear how her name was not spotted as Sigalas says the list had less than 10 names on it of former Olympians proposed as torchbearers.

Hurdler Halkia, a surprise gold medallist in the Athens 2004 Games, tested positive for the steroid methyltrienolone in August 2008 and was subsequently banned from athletics for two years by the sport's governing body.

Hours before the Canadian leg of the torch relay started on Friday for the Feb 12-28 Winter Olympics, it became known Halkia had run part of the seven-day Greek leg.

Her relay participation triggered the ire of the International Olympic Committee, who said it was "inappropriate and a regrettable mistake."