Modahl draws first blood in compensation attempt

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Diane Modahl yesterday fought off a High Court attempt by the British Athletic Federation to block her damages action, launched after she was cleared of drug-taking allegations.

She will now proceed with her pounds 480,000 compensation claim for costs incurred in challenging a four-year ban imposed by the BAF, after tests carried out in Lisbon in 1994 suggested she had unnaturally high levels of testosterone in her body.

The 30-year-old runner, who was at the High Court with her husband and coach Vicente yesterday, said afterwards she was "absolutely delighted" with the result.

"It's very important for us to pursue this claim because I have done absolutely nothing wrong. The BAF have obviously forgotten that... and it's important that natural justice is actually done," she said.

Mrs Modahl, who won the right to Olympic selection two weeks ago, added: "This has not been an ideal way to prepare for the Olympics and Atlanta is now just weeks away. I want to fix my mind on that. The longer this case goes on the more stressful it is for me and my family."

The athlete, who is legally aided, was told that the costs of today's hearing would be decided at the full trial in the autumn.

The four-year ban was eventually lifted by an appeal tribunal and the International Athletic Federation, after experts cast doubts on the accuracy of the tests. New tests showed that bacterial levels in urine could affect testosterone measurements.