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Belarus hammer thrower out of Olympics for doping

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Aug. 3, 2012, 6:01 p.m. | Sports — by Interfax-Ukraine

In this Aug. 27, 2007, file photo, Belarus' Ivan Tsikhan reacts after an attempt during the men's hammer throw final at the World Athletics Championships in Osaka, Japan.
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LONDON — A three-time world champion hammer thrower from Belarus was kicked out of the London Olympics on Friday because an IOC retest found his doing samples from the 2004 Athens Games to be positive.

Ivan Tsikhan, who won the silver medal in Athens, had been expected to start qualifying for the hammer throw final but was instead sent home by the IAAF, the Belarus Olympic committee said Friday.

"We have received a letter from the international athletics federation that we should take out Ivan Tsikhan for doping from 2004 in Athens," said Oleg Grinko, a spokesman for the Belarus Olympic Committee.

An Olympic official with direct knowledge of the case said Tsikhan had also been caught in IAAF retests in 2005, when he won the world title in Helsinki, Finland. The official spoke on condition of anonymity to The Associated Press because the results had not been publicly announced.

The IOC decided in May to retest about 100 samples from the Athens Olympics to catch any drug cheats who escaped detection at the time.

The IOC stores doping samples from each Olympics for eight years to allow for retesting. The statute of limitations for Athens will expire Aug. 29, the date the games closed in 2004.

"It is just a few weeks until this is finished. They decided to open it once again and take the medal off Ivan Tsikhan from the Olympic Games," said Grinko, adding he did not know what substances were involved.

Tsikhan also got in trouble after the 2008 Beijing Games, where he took bronze. He initially was stripped of his medal after testing positive for abnormal levels of testosterone.

Then, last year, the Court of Arbitration for Sport reinstated his bronze medal because samples were mishandled. However, the panel did not clear the athlete of suspicion, insisting the verdict "should not be interpreted as an exoneration."

This year's retesting only applied to the Athens Games, where Tsikhan earned silver after gold medalist Adrian Annus of Hungary was penalized for a doping violation.

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