Athletics: Legalities delay verdict on Modahl's second test: BAF calls emergency session to discuss repercussions of drug case as Jackson extends run of hurdles success

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The Independent Online
THE management board of the British Athletic Federation will hold an emergency session tonight to discuss the implications of yesterday's follow-up drug test on Diane Modahl, the result of which will be officially announced today.

The International Amateur Athletic Federation spokesman, Christopher Winner, said the delay was legally necessary in order to ensure that Modahl and the British federation received full written reports.

After the drawn-out litigation over Butch Reynolds's doping test, and the breaches of procedure which have characterised the Modahl case thus far, the IAAF is anxious to stick to the letter of the law.

'There are almost 15 pages of results,' Winner said. 'We must make absolutely sure that they are set out correctly and given out to the BAF and the athlete involved. This is no time for making any mistakes.'

Portuguese, British, and IAAF officials emerged grim-faced and silent from the Lisbon laboratory accredited by the International Olympic Committee after observing the analysis of a second sample from Modahl, taken at an athletics meeting in Portugal on 18 June.

If the second sample matches the first, which contained high levels of the male hormone testosterone, Modahl faces a four-year ban and Britain's women face expulsion from next month's World Cup - Modahl's 800 metres victory in the European Cup, which earned them qualification, would be retrospectively annulled.

With the World Cup at Crystal Palace being scheduled for 9 to 11 September, there is clearly going to be pressure on the British federation to resolve the matter soon. But the federation's spokesman, Tony Ward, said yesterday that every effort would be made to give Modahl time to put together her case at a BAF hearing if the second test proves positive. A delay of up to a month has not been ruled out.

That presents the problem of whether the British women should compete at Crystal Palace in the interim.

If they did, they would risk two actions. If Modahl failed to avoid a four-year ban, their results at the World Cup could be retrospectively annulled. The opportunity also exists for the IAAF Council, which has overall control of the World Cup, to withdraw its invitation to the British team.

Either way, much confusion and embarrassment would result. It is likely that the BAF executive chairman, Peter Radford, and the IAAF president, Primo Nebiolo, will discuss the matter before any decision is made at tonight's management board meeting.

'Of course there is the possibility that the team may be pulled out,' Ward said. 'But the meeting may take another point of view. Everything is in the air. And one of the reasons for that is the nine-week delay in processing Modahl's sample.' The excuse given for the first four-week period of delay - renovation work at the laboratory which caused a month's backlog in testing - has not satisfied BAF.

It has been suggested that the high level of testosterone that came to light in Modahl's A test could have been the result of an illness.

Modahl's husband and coach, Vicente Modahl, the former IOC medical commission member, Professor Arnold Beckett, and Radford were among those present during the testing yesterday. Before emerging, all parties met for two hours after the tests had been concluded.

The visiting IAAF and British athletics officials and Modahl's husband left immediately for the airport to catch a flight to London.