Greek official acknowledges Halkia torch mistake
Following criticism from the IOC, the Greek Olympic Committee said Friday that it was wrong to let a hurdler serving a doping ban run in the Vancouver flame relay. Olympic Torch Relay Commission president Spyros Zannias said Fani Halkia was proposed to carry the flame by the Greek Olympic medallists' association, which said it had made an innocent mistake. Zannias said his commission "was wrong to accept the proposal," but offered no apology. The International Olympic Committee has said the inclusion of Halkia was "inappropriate and a regrettable mistake." Halkia's expulsion from the 2008 Beijing Games after testing positive for anabolic steroid use was a major embarrassment for Greek sports, already reeling under a major doping scandal. 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. The head of the medallists' association, Giorgos Sigalas, said her name was accidentally included in a list of proposed torchbearers sent to the Greek Olympic Committee. "It was an innocent human mistake and there was nothing underhand about it," Sigalas said. "I bear the moral responsibility because I should have checked the list." But Sigalas said the IOC has not sent any official document barring Halkia from any Olympics-related activity. "We just follow instructions, we don't make the rules," Sigalas said. "Greek society and the state still recognize Ms. Halkia as an Olympic champion." Halkia is a board member of the medallists' association.