Thanou, far right, gives a statement after missing a dope test at the Athens Olympics in 2004 [GALLO/GETTY]

Former Greek sprinters Kostas Kenteris and Katerina Thanou received suspended jail sentences for staging a motorcycle crash to avoid a doping test before the Athens 2004 Olympics, court officials said on Tuesday.

The Sydney 2000 Olympic medallists and their coach Christos Tzekos were accused of staging a crash on the eve of their home Games.

Kenteris, 37 and Thanou, 36, were each sentenced to 31 months in jail as the much delayed trial finally came to a conclusion.

"The crash never happened," one of the judges said.

Tzekos, the only one of the trio present in court, was sentenced to 33 months in jail.

Two witnesses who gave testimonies were sentenced to seven and 15 months in jail respectively while the doctors who testified received sentences of between six and eight months.

All the sentences were suspended pending appeals.

Court officials said all the guilty parties intended to appeal, adding that the appeals would be heard within 10 days.

Trial delays

The trial, which took years to start after frequent postponements, began in January and suffered several delays due to the absence of witnesses.

Kenteris, the 200 metres gold medallist at the 2000 Sydney Olympics, and 100 metres silver medallist Thanou were acquitted of doping charges in a Greek athletics federation probe in 2005.

The International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) appealed the verdict at the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

They settled out of court in 2006 and subsequently admitted only to anti-doping rule violations, essentially serving out their unofficial two-year suspensions.

The 2004 scandal, widely regarded as the biggest at an Olympics since Canadian Ben Johnson lost his 100 metres gold medal in Seoul in 1988 after a positive doping test, cast a huge cloud over the Athens Games for the host country.

Source: Reuters