Olympic Medals
Games Participations3
First Olympic GamesAtlanta 1996
Year of Birth1971


Born into a Greek community in Albania, Sabanis first came to attention by winning a bronze medal for Albania in the 1989 European Championship and improved to silver the following year. Sabanis was eligible for a Greek passport through parentage and was one of a number of foreign born athletes who received Greek citizenship and settled in Greece in the early 1990’s. After a period away from weightlifting due to personal problems he joined the Greek national squad in 1995. For his adopted country, Sabanis won silver medals in both the Atlanta and Sydney Olympics and was world champion in the bantamweight division in 1995 and at featherweight in 1998 where he broke the world record for the snatch. Sabanis also gained silver at the 1999 Worlds. A European Championships gold medallist in 1996 and 2002, he won three successive silver medals in 1997, 1998 and 1999. He appeared to win Greece’s first medal, a bronze, in the Athens Olympics. A few days after the event, Sabanis’ medal was withdrawn when he tested positive for excessive testosterone. He later revealed to journalists that his testosterone-to-epitestosterone ratio (TE), a measure that is used to identify doping, was 24.95, over four times the permitted ratio. Sabanis was given a six month suspended jail sentence by the Greek courts in addition to a two year suspension from his sport. He returned to competition in 2006, placing 11th at the World Championships. Sabanis and all other Greek medal winners at the Athens Olympics were immediately honoured by being immortalized on a postage stamp but his was withdrawn after the news of the positive doping test was broken and is now a valued collector’s item.

Olympic Results

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