Greek sprinters Kostas Kenteris and Katerina Thanou will be free to compete following the Olympic Games after the IAAF launched an inquiry into their missed drugs test yesterday.

Kenteris and Thanou withdrew from the Athens Games on day five - Wednesday, August 18 - to avoid being thrown out by the International Olympic Committee.

They failed to submit to a drugs test at the Games Village on the eve of the Games.

The International Association of Athletics Federations held their regular monthly meeting at the Grande Bretagne Hotel in Athens today at which they announced the launch of their inquiry.

The IOC referred the case of Kenteris and Thanou, and their coach Christos Tzekos, to the IAAF after the athletes volunteered to pull out of the Games.

Kenteris, 31, and 29-year-old Thanou protested their innocence after their IOC disciplinary hearing, but IOC judicial advisor Francois Carrard made it clear they would have been expelled from the Games if they had not withdrawn themselves.

He said: "The athletes have maintained they have done nothing wrong, which is their right and it is true they have never tested positive. But the disciplinary committee felt they had enough material and evidence to lead to a sanction for the Athens Games."

In the end, the case didn't get that far because the athletes voluntarily agreed to surrender their accreditation.

Under IAAF rules, three 'no-shows' for random drug tests means an automatic ban.

The organisation already have one case on file - from Tel Aviv last month - awaiting investigation.

And the IOC have already confirmed their testers unsuccessfully attempted to meet Kenteris and Thanou twice during "a pattern of conduct and a general lack of information, misinformation and missed information about their whereabouts and availability from July 30 until they entered hospital on August 13".

After the August 18 IOC disciplinary hearing, IAAF anti-doping chief Arne Ljungqvist, who is also the IOC's medical commission chairman, said:  "We (IAAF) will discuss the case on August 26 but we will probably not have a final ruling until well after the Games."

Filed by James Boylan