Christos Iakovou was suspended after a
raft of positive drug test [AFP]
Greek Olympic weightlifting coach Christos Iakovou was suspended after 11 Greek weightlifters tested positive for using banned substances.

Names of the athletes were not released pending confirmation of the March 7 out-of-competition tests.

Iakovou, 60, is one of Greece's most successful coaches with his athletes winning five Olympic gold medals, along with five silver and two bronze, since the 1992 Barcelona Games.

"National coach Christos Iakovou ... offered his resignation to the governing board of the Greek Weightlifting Federation,'' it said in a statement.

"The governing board has suspended Mr. Iakovou until light is shed on the case.''

The federation said the unscheduled tests were conducted by the World Anti-Doping Agency on the orders of the International Weightlifting Federation.

"If the results are confirmed, this would be a black page in the bright history of weightlifting,'' IWF General Secretary Yannis Sgouros said in a written statement.

"But this would not cancel the golden (successes) that Greece has enjoyed in weightlifting in recent years.''

Greece's state-run NET television said the 11 athletes were all from the 14-member national team, making it uncertain whether Greece can compete in weightlifting at the August 8-24 Beijing Olympics.

Officials at the Greek federation and sports ministry could not be reached to confirm the report or make further comment.

The emerging scandal is the worst to affect Greek sport since sprinters Katerina Thanou and Costas Kenteris missed a doping test on the eve of the 2004 Olympics in Athens and later received two-year bans.

The pair, who pulled out of the Athens Games, were charged with perjury after claiming they missed the tests because they were involved in a motorcycle accident.

Kenteris won the 200-metre race at the 2000 Sydney Olympics, while Thanou won the silver medal in the 100 metres.