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Olympics 2012: Greek triple jumper booted for Twitter posts

- Associated Press - Wednesday, July 25, 2012

ATHENS, Greece — Triple jumper Voula Papachristou was expelled from Greece's Olympic team Wednesday for her comments on Twitter mocking African immigrants and expressing support for a far-right party.

The Hellenic Olympic Committee said Wednesday that Papachristou had been excluded from the team "for statements contrary to the values and ideas of the Olympic movement."

After the comments and the ensuing uproar, the Hellenic Olympic Committee banned all Greek athletes from using social media to express any personal opinions not related to the Olympics.

Papachristou's Twitter account, (at)papaxristoutj, contained several retweets and links to sites and YouTube videos promoting the views of Golden Dawn, a formerly marginal extreme right party that won Parliamentary seats in national elections in May and June, polling almost 7 percent of the vote. She has since erased those links and retweets from her account.

But it was her attempt at a joke Sunday that went viral. Commenting on the widely reported appearance of Nile-virus-carrying mosquitoes in Athens, Papachristou wrote: "With so many Africans in Greece, the West Nile mosquitoes will be getting home food!!!". Her tweet prompted thousands of negative comments that snowballed Wednesday.

Egypt's Olympians sporting knockoff gear

CAIRO — The tracksuits and bags of Egypt's Olympic team are emblazoned with the familiar Nike and Adidas logos, and the country's committe chairman says that's good enough -- even though they're fakes.

"We signed with a Chinese distributor in light of Egypt's economic situation," Gen. Mahmoud Ahmed Ali told fhe Associated Press in a telephone interview Wednesday.

Ali said the real thing was just too expensive, and the state of Egypt's battered finances led him to opt for the counterfeit gear, which he said was "sufficient."

If Nike has a problem with it, then it should deal directly with the Chinese distributor who sold it, Ali said in separate remarks to the state-run Ahram Online.

"Nike is highly concerned that if these allegations are true, the athletes will have received products that do not meet Nike's quality standards," the company said in an emailed statement late Wednesday.

Fencer tapped as flag bearer for U.S. team

LONDON — Two-time Olympic fencing champion Mariel Zagunis will carry the U.S. flag in the opening ceremony of the London Games.

The U.S. Olympic Committee says Zagunis won a vote of the 529-strong team ahead of Friday's ceremony.

Zagunis says she is "extremely humbled by this incredible privilege."

She was the first American to win a fencing gold in 100 years at the 2004 Athens Games.

Nine track athletes banned for doping

LONDON — Bans for nine track and field athletes were announced in the immediate lead-up to the Olympics on Wednesday as anti-doping officials promised the London Games would be the "most tested" ever and two new procedures would be used.

The IAAF, the governing body for athletics, said that six of the nine athletes had been caught through the athlete biological passport scheme, which will be used at the Olympics for the first time this year.

The other three positive doping results were retested samples from last year's world championships at Daegu, South Korea.

The athletes were guilty of "sophisticated doping," the IAAF said, and received bans ranging from two to four years.

WADA also said a new test for the abuse of human growth hormone would be used at the games.

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