Athletics Modahl is angered by IAAF arbitration ruling

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The Independent Online


Diane Modahl reacted strongly yesterday to a decision by the International Amateur Athletic Federation to refer her doping case to its own arbitration panel.

Modahl, who was cleared of a four-year suspension by a British Athletic Federation appeal panel last Wednesday, has cast doubt upon the objectivity of any arbitration by a governing body which she claims has publicly criticised her on many occasions. And she has called for a "summit" composed of scientists representing her and experts from the IAAF medical commission to meet and consider her case, independent of any adversarial arrangement.

The IAAF, which made its decision in Gothenburg yesterday at the start of its council meeting, described the BAF panel's decision to uphold Modahl's appeal as "odd, unusual and surprising". The decisive factor was evidence which showed that urine samples not stored in refrigerated conditions - a state of affairs that occurred with Modahl's sample - could end up producing testosterone by bacteriological action. Modahl's sample was found to contain massive levels of the male hormone last summer.

No date has been set for the arbitration panel, but the IAAF spokesman, Istvan Gyulai, said it would probably take a matter of months to convene it. "Its decision will be final and binding to both parties," Gyulai added.

The IAAF said it was not happy with the way that evidence was brought to the London hearing after a deadline which the panel had set for new material. The BAF was not given time to respond properly to the evidence, it said. The sport's governing body also questions whether the evidence was convincing enough to exonerate Modahl.

Arne Ljungqvist, the IAAF doping expert, said the IAAF planned another analysis of Modahl's urine sample from Lisbon before the arbitration panel met. "We need to look at the arguments upon which the panel exonerated Modahl. They need to be reviewed. It leaves a lot of questions," Ljungqvist said.

In a statement, Modahl responded: "There could be nothing more odd than a sports governing body making a decision about a case before it has had the relevant information put before it." Modahl pointed out that transcripts of the appeal hearing had not yet been released.

"I call upon the IAAF to reconsider its decision today and call for a collaborative effort from the scientists involved," Modahl added. She said that the confusions which had occurred with her sample must never be allowed to happen again.

Her statement said she was "deeply dissatisfied by the previous public announcements made by the IAAF", and concerned that she might not receive a fair hearing from the three-strong arbitration panel.

Modahl also appealed to the BAF to pay her mounting costs. "She simply cannot afford to continue her fight on her own," the statement said.

Britain, meanwhile, is ready to oppose international moves to halve the present four-year ban for serious doping offences. But Gyulai said yesterday that such changes could be discretionary to domestic federations.

Primo Nebiolo, the Italian president of the IAAF, has threatened not to attend the World Championships, which begin on Saturday, because of negative Swedish media reports about him. A Swedish television journalist asked Nebiolo about a trial in Italy at which he was acquitted of charges of abuse of office. He was furious and hinted he would leave Sweden after the IAAF congress which precedes the championships.

"Primo Nebiolo does not feel welcome here. He told me yesterday he wants to go home directly after the IAAF congress. I hope and believe he will reconsider," Ulf Ekelund, the general secretary of the Swedish organising committee, said.

Paris has been announced as the venue for the next World Championships in 1997.

Meanwhile, Sally Gunnell looks like missing the World Championships in Gothenburg altogether after two comeback runs in Germany. Gunnell, who hoped for a 4x400 relay place as consolation for abandoning her defence of the 400 metres hurdles title because of injury, finished third at a meeting in Lindau and sixth in Rhede.

Her times would have put her fifth in the British rankings. A spokesman for Gunnell said: "Sally will make a final decision in a day or so, but it is highly unlikely she will compete. She was disappointed with the times, but at least she has come through without any ill-effects and hopefully will be racing again in late August or early September."

n Flora margarine is the new sponsor of the London Mara-thon, backing the event with pounds 6m over three years.