Athens Greek sprinter Kostas Kederis, who withdrew from the Athens Games after missing a doping test, says he did nothing wrong and has pledged to return to the track.
The surprise 200-metre silver medallist in 2000 made his comments in a telephone interview with the private TV Mytilini channel Thursday night, hours after thousands of Greeks chanted his name at the Olympic Stadium and disrupted the race he was to compete in.
"When I heard all these people the thousands of people shout my name, it was the most beautiful thing that I have heard in recent years," Kederis said. The fans had jeered the athletes who competed in the race, which had two false starts, and was won by American Shawn Crawford.
"I feel that I have done nothing wrong and I feel that many people have come out and accused me in public ... I feel disgusted for what they said about me."
Kederis said the recent outburst of support by Greeks has strengthen him and he promised to compete once again under the Greek flag.
"Yesterday's expression of love gives me the strength and courage to fight in these difficult times in order to be present again in the stadiums," Kederis said.
Asked about the crowd's display, International Olympic Committee spokeswoman Giselle Davies said: "Emotion is something that is linked with sport."
"Sport is about passion and emotion, and clearly there was some emotion yesterday. You must, of course, sometimes differentiate emotion from the facts and decisions that an organization has to take," she said.
The campaign against doping is not about public opinion, Davies added.
"The fight against doping is to protect athletes who are clean and who respect the rules," Davies said. "It's not a question of fighting against doping for public opinion."
The Greek media were was divided on the crowd's behaviour in the stadium.
"A final under the shadow of Kenteris," wrote the daily Kathimerini in its front page headline, while the mass circulation Ta Nea said: "The voice of the people harmed the final."
Others were more blunt: "Golden Kenteris He was awarded by 70,000 people," wrote the sports daily Protathletis, while the other sports daily Filathlos wrote, "Shame for the crowd."
Kederis and Katerina Thanou, runner-up in the 100 metres in Sydney, could not be found at the Olympic Village for an Aug. 12 drug test. Hours later, they said they were involved in a motorcycle accident as they were rushing back to the village to be tested. They spent four days in the hospital and later withdrew from the Olympics.
Their coach Christos Tsekos also turned in his accreditation to the International Olympic Committee. Both athletes have denied any wrongdoing.
Greek authorities have launched an investigation into the traffic accident and the hospitalization of the two disgraced athletes, as well as the business activities of their coach, who maintained a food supplements company in Athens. The company has been raided twice by inspectors from health and finance ministries.
On Monday, authorities announced that small amounts of anabolic steroids were found in samples seized during the raids.
An investigation has also been launched by the IAAF, track and field's international governing body, which said Thursday the two Greek sprinters were free to participate in competitions.
Under IAAF rules, athletes face sanctions in the event of three drug-test "no-shows" in 18 months. Before the missed test in Athens, the Greek runners were absent when testers looked for them in Chicago on Aug. 10-11. The IAAF is also looking into a third possible case involving Kenteris in Tel Aviv, Israel, in late July.