Athletics: Moorcroft call to combat writs

DAVE MOORCROFT, the chief executive of UK Athletics, yesterday renewed his calls for Britain's drug-testing regime to be extended to include arbitration and disciplinary measures.

Speaking on the eve of the the inaugural UK Athletics annual congress in Manchester, Moorcroft has indicated once again that such an extension is the only long-term answer to the increasing number of legal challenges being faced by sporting bodies over doping issues.

The problem has been brought into sharp focus again this week following the decision by the European 200 metres champion, Doug Walker, to issue writs against both UK Athletics and the International Amateur Athletic Federation following their failure to agree over whether he is eligible to run following an adverse finding of nandrolone metabolites. Even though a UK Athletics disciplinary committee cleared Walker of wrongdoing, the athlete claims they should not be bound by the IAAF's subsequent refusal to ratify the decision.

Moorcroft has had urgent talks with the Sports Minister, Kate Hoey, in the wake of this latest legal challenge to British Athletics, which is still settling a claim worth half a million pounds involving Diane Modahl's doping ban and subsequent exoneration on appeal.

"She has been excellent," Moorcroft said. "I have been very encouraged by our discussions. We need to have a body in place to which all sports adhere, with agreed legal and medical guidelines, which will be more resistant to legal challenges. It's almost inevitable at the moment that doping offences will lead to court, and it seems that innocent verdicts are even more likely to result in legal action."

A UK Sport inquiry into nandrolone and its effects, set up in the wake of adverse findings involving Walker, Gary Cadogan and Linford Christie, is due to announce its finding in mid-December. That might provide Moorcroft with further ammunition in his battle to shift the IAAF from its hardline stance, which holds that any athlete is responsible for any banned substance found in their body, regardless of how it arrived there.

Moorcroft, meanwhile, has defended Britain's stance on the doping issue. "People are saying that because we have cleared some of our athletes of doping charges we are going soft on the issue, but that is not true. In a way, what has happened highlights the good things we are doing."