British athletics team faces ban after drug test failures

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The Independent Online
THE CLEAN IMAGE of British athletics was in question yesterday after it was officially announced that two competitors withdrawn from the Commonwealth Games in Canada had tested positive for banned substances, and that a further three club athletes had been suspended over doping offences.

Professor Peter Radford, chief executive of the British Athletic Federation, confirmed that the shot putter Paul Edwards and Diane Modahl, the 1990 Commonwealth 800 metres champion, had been notified of positive findings in their urine samples. They returned to Heathrow yesterday and are awaiting the result of the statutory follow-up tests.

The club athletes, who must also await further tests, were not named. Two face three-month suspensions for taking, respectively, a prohibited painkiller and the stimulant pseudoephedrine. The third will receive a four-year ban if the presence of amphetamine is confirmed.

Earlier this month Solomon Wariso was withdrawn from Britain's team at the European Championships after testing positive for the banned stimulant ephedrine. Radford said it was very unusual for British athletics to have three major doping cases, and he accepted more positive tests could be in the offing.

If Modahl's positive test, which dates from 18 June, is upheld, Britain's women's team would be ineligible for the World Cup at Crystal Palace from 9 to 11 September. They earned the second qualifying place at the European Cup in Birmingham in June, with Modahl contributing eight points for an 800 metres win. Any ban would be retrospective, thus annulling her performance and giving the second qualifying place to Russia.

Radford was deeply angry about the delay in notification in Modahl's case. She tested positive in Portugal at a meeting run under a European Athletic Association permit but Radford did not hear the result from the Portuguese Federation until Wednesday morning. By then Modahl had travelled to Canada.