Athletics: Morceli stands ground

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The Independent Online
NOURREDINE MORCELI, the 1500m world champion and world record-holder, insisted last night that he will not compete in the World Championships, starting in Stuttgart today, despite the threat of a two- month ban from the sport, writes Adam Szreter.

Morceli and his manager, Amar Brahmia, have been unhappy because they believe certain athletes are being paid to appear at the championships, and Morceli is not, an allegation that was denied yesterday by Primo Nebiolo, president of the International Amateur Athletic Federation.

'I declare officially that no money has been paid to athletes to compete here and no money has been offered,' Nebiolo said. Earlier in the day Nebiolo confirmed a decision made at an IAAF council meeting in Jakarta in January which stated that athletes failing to compete in Stuttgart after being selected by their national federation would be bannned for two months and suspended from the next Olympics.

But Morceli has remained adamant, and last night said: 'The Algerian federation has got to withdraw my entry because I didn't run in the trials and I didn't want to go. I have broken no rules. They must withdraw it by next Thursday (the day of the 1500m heats) or I risk being suspended.'

Morocco's Khalid Skah, the Olympic 10,000m champion, looks likely to try for a 5,000-10,000 double in Stuttgart, while Gwen Torrence, the world 200m champion, is going for four gold medals - 100, 200 and both relays.

Italy's Luciano Zerbini has returned two positive tests for steroids. Zerbini, 33, was to compete in the discus and shot in Stuttgart. He faces a four- year ban if the tests are confirmed.

Christie the thoroughbred,

Nebiolo's party, Stuttgart

schedule, page 43