Greece bans dopers from Olympic torch relays

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ATHENS, Greece (AP)

The Greek Olympic Committee will exclude athletes who have served a doping ban from Olympic torch relays. The move follows criticism from the International Olympic Committee over the participation of banned hurdler Fani Halkia in the Vancouver flame relay last week. The committee says it decided "that an athlete who has been disciplined for the use of banned substances be banned from carrying the (Olympic Flame) for life." Halkia, the 2004 Olympic 400-meter hurdles champion, was expelled from the 2008 Beijing Games after testing positive for anabolic steroid. The IOC called the inclusion of Halkia in the recent torch relay "inappropriate and a regrettable mistake." The committee also decided it must approve the list of torch bearers. Halkia had been invited to carry the flame at the recommendation of the Greek Olympic medallists' association. She serves on the board. Olympic Torch Relay Commission president Spyros Zannias said he wrote a letter inviting her to take part in the torch relay. He offered his resignation, which was not accepted. Fourteen other Greek athletes, including 11 weightlifters, tested positive for the same steroid, methyltrienolone, before the Beijing Olympics. Halkia, who was banned for two years and faces trial for steroid use, has denied knowingly taking drugs.

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