Athletics: BAF upholds Wariso suspension: British 200 metres champion is banned for three months

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SOLOMON WARISO yesterday had a three-month ban for taking an illegal stimulant confirmed by a British Athletic Federation disciplinary hearing.

The 27-year-old national 200 metres champion was found to have contravened International Amateur Athletic Federation rules by a three-man panel in London, headed by Sir Arthur Gold, the honorary life president of the European Athletic Association and chairman of the BAF drug advisory group.

Wariso, who tested positive for the banned stimulant ephedrine at a meeting in Gateshead on 1 July, was sent home from the European Championships in Helsinki after admitting that he took the herbal remedy tablets 'Up Your Gas' - given to him by a friend and fellow British athlete - because he was feeling run down.

The Haringey runner - whose retrospective ban rules his club out of this weekend's GRE Cup final as his performance in helping them qualify is now invalid - said he took the tablets innocently. The ephedrine was not clearly marked on the botttle, but contained within 'Ma Juang' - a form of Chinese ephedra.

Under IAAF rules, carelessness is no defence in such cases. But Wariso's solicitor, Nick Bitel, strongly criticised the hearing's decision. 'The tribunal came to this decision despite the British Athletic Federation admitting that Solomon was not a cheat and that his use of a banned substance was wholly accidental.

'Solomon finds it quite astonishing that given these admissions he should still receive any ban at all. There must be a change in the rules to prevent any repetition of this monstrously unfair decision which can only have damaged the credibility of British athletics further.'

Wariso has the right to appeal to the BAF against the ruling - in front of a newly constituted panel - and could then take his case to the IAAF arbitration panel. An official statement from the BAF is expected today, but the decision of the panel is believed to have been unanimous.