Fani Halkia, the reigning Olympic champion in the women's 400-meter hurdles, told reporters she was "shocked" to learn she had tested positive for the banned substance methyltrienolone and would be unable to defend her gold medal.
Halkia spoke to Greek journalists early this morning at a central Beijing hotel. She said she was summoned by the head of Greece's Olympic delegation and told of the results of the first sample she gave to World Anti-Doping Agency doctors.
"I am shocked," she said, according to Greek media reports. "I have undergone more testing than anyone else."
Halkia was tested a few days before the Beijing Olympics in Japan, where Greece's track and field team had been training. She said she had volunteered to take part in WADA's pilot program in which athletes submit themselves voluntarily to regular testing.
Halkia, who has moved out of the Olympic Village, said she was sorry she could not take part in the games and that she had expected to make the 400-meter hurdles final.
Halkia said she did not know how the banned substance was found in her sample.
A total of 15 Greek athletes, including Halkia, have tested positive for methyltrienolone. They include 11 weightlifters, swimmer Yannis Drymonakos, Regas and sprinter Tassos Gousis, who was sent home a few days before the Olympics. The International Olympic Committee has also barred sprinter Katerina Thanou from the games for her role in a drug-testing scandal at the Athens Games four years ago.
Halkia was a relative unknown before she won the gold medal in the women's 400-meter hurdles at the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens.