British annoyance at drug revelation delay

Click to follow
The Independent Online
BRITISH Olympic officials apologised last night for the embarrassment which the revelations of positive drug tests by three of their team had caused the host nation of this year's Games in Barcelona.

Jason Livingston, Britain's second fastest 100 metres runner, and two weightlifters, Andrew Davies and Andrew Saxton, have been suspended and sent home after random, out-of-competition drug tests administered by the Sports Council earlier this month.

But members of the British Olympic Association (BOA), which financed an increase in the level of testing in the year leading up to the Games, are said to be furious that the 1,050 samples taken were not analysed before the majority of British competitors had reached the Olympic village. They are seeking an urgent meeting with the Sports Council to discuss the situation.

Caroline Searle, a BOA spokesman, said: 'We would have preferred to have got the results before the Games. It is very unfortunate.'

All three competitors now face a life ban from the Olympic Games. Livingston, who also faces a four-year ban from international competition, has 21 days in which to appeal.

Last night he was in hiding with members of his family at a secret address. His uncle, Dave Payne, said Livingston would appeal against his ban. 'Jason feels cheated,' he said. 'He is not guilty and he feels totally gutted at the way he has been condemned without a hearing.'

The weightlifters have already appealed against their sentence of a life ban, imposed under the rules of the British Amateur Weight Lifting Association, although both admitted the offence and did not wish for the second test sample of their urine to be examined.

All three tests were undertaken by the Sports Council's random testers, who turn up at short notice to take samples of urine for analysis as part of their testing programme.

Livingston, 21, who is the European indoor champion at 60m, was tested in England on 15 July. The news that his sample contained the banned steroid, methandienone, was not made known to him until Tuesday night, soon after he had arrived in the Olympic village. Sports Council officials confirmed yesterday that Livingston's second sample had also tested positive.

He was said by team officials to have taken the news of his positive test 'quietly'. He flew home under an assumed name without having had time to settle into his assigned room.

Livingston's nickname is Baby Ben, because of his resemblance in style to Ben Johnson, the Canadian sprinter who was sent home in disgrace from the last Olympic Games after a positive test for steroids.

Davies and Saxton, both 25, were tested on 10 and 11 July respectively. They were both positive for clenbuterol, a stimulant and anabolic agent. Saxton heard early on Wednesday and returned home the same day. Davies was not told until late on Wednesday evening and left the village immediately.

Saxton was said by the BOA to have taken the drug to relieve an asthmatic condition and to have given Davies the same drug when he complained of a 'tight' chest. Saxton, speaking at his home in Cowley, Oxford, said yesterday: 'I am innocent. I have done nothing wrong.'

British team's anger, page 3

Leading article, page 16

Olympic reports, pages 28-30

Ken Jones, page 30

(Photograph omitted)