Kenteris and Thanou Case: The Decision of the Court of Appeals of Athens

Oct 21 2011 | 12:15 PM

Kenteris – Thanou Case: Decision of Court of Appeals of Athens, 6-9-2011

On 6th of September 2011, the Three – Member Court of Appeals of Athens judged upon the challenged decision of the Three - Member Misdemeanor Court of Athens dated 10.05.2011, regarding the Greek Olympic Winners - Athletes Konstantinos Kenteris and Aikaterini Thanou, their Trainer Christos Tzekos as well as the doctors of the Hospital “KAT” of Athens. The defendant doctors provided their services during the medical import of the athletes in the accredited for the Olympic Games Hospital “KAT”, when the Olympic Games were held in Athens, 2004. One of the   defendant Doctors’ counsel is the writer of this Comment.

On 18th of July 2011 in a very short time period after the extradition of the challenged decision of the Three – Member Misdemeanor Court of Athens, the judges of the Athens Court of Appeals, following the fully justified suggestion of the Public Prosecutor of the Court of Appeals, decided that:
a) It cannot be stated with certainty that no accident of the athletes’ incurred,
b) On the basis of the reconsideration of the evidence and the witness testimonies, the athletes as well as the rest defendant doctors were judged innocent, on the contrary to their trainer Christos Tzekos, who was judged guilty for the possession of illegal substances, according to Sports Law and convicted of 12 months imprisonment with three years suspension. Following the publishing of the Courts’ minutes of this trial, we will create a special legal commentary, which will be published in the Law Journals “International Sports Law Review Pandektis” and “Lex Sportiva” and it will be also available in the IASL’ s website.

The interesting point of this trial is that the Court, in order to configurate its judicial belief as regards to the doctors and the athletes as well, took into account crucial elements from the file, such as: the circumstances under which the doctors fulfilled their duty, (Olympic Games, high prestige athletes who complained and stated that they are feeling dizzy, pain in the abdomen and in the neck etc.). On the contrary to the challenged decision, the position that the doctors exercised their obvious duty, as they were not obliged to know the whole truth concerning the events that happened and especially when the time is 12.00 o’ clock in the midnight and athletes of high prestige are appearing to the accredited for the Olympic Games Hospital “KAT” and ask for treatment, prevailed. In this particular trial, it was accepted, as it has already been proved, that the doctors were obliged to import and treat the athletes and not the opposite, not only according to the medical facts, but also the case law. Otherwise, acting in an opposite way, they would not have exercised their medical duty and they would have been legally liable.

As far as the athletes are concerned, the Court ruled upon the doubt as to the incident, as the athletes had already been excluded from the Games with three non- Show and they had no reasons to present it as an accident. In addition, it was proved that they had no reasons to behave in that way, in order to supposedly avoid doping control, as the control could be whenever undertaken and they were not allowed to participate anyway.

In this way, the Court was led to their exemption of the penal liability.   

Dimitrios P. Panagiotopoulos
Assoc. Professor of the University of Athens
Advocate, Attorney - at – law

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