Athletics: Two `fined' prize-money for breach of drug rules

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The Independent Online
TWO ATHLETES, including a world junior record-holder from Kenya, have had their prize-money withheld from World Championship events which took place this year because of a breach of the sport's anti-doping rules. It is the first time in athletics, which has been a professional sport for little more than a decade, that financial sanctions rather than suspensions have been applied.

The decision was taken by the world governing body, the International Amateur Athletic Federation, at a meeting last month. "The prize- money of two athletes, due to them after the World Cross-country Championships in Marrakech and the World Road Relay Championship in Manaus, Brazil, will not be paid," Istvan Gyulai, the IAAF secretary, said.

The total amount withheld amounts to nearly $50,000 (pounds 35,000). "The two athletes had undergone only one out-of-competition test instead of the required two during the 12-month period prior to the competitions, a condition to be eligible to win competition awards," said Gyulai.

The two athletes are believed to be a Romanian woman runner and Paul Kosgei, the 20-year-old Kenyan who, last year at the Stockholm Grand Prix meeting, set a world junior best for the 3,000 metres steeplechase of 8min 07.69sec.

Last night, Kosgei's manager, the Italian agent Gianni De Madonna, expressed his outrage. "The IAAF acted very quickly but they never wrote to me or contacted the athlete. I only found out because the money owed to Kosgei was missing from the amount that they paid over.

"They have stopped $35,000 from Paul, which is a lot of money for a young athlete, especially these days, when there is no appearance money, and you can only get prize-money in European track meetings if you finish in the top eight."

World sports governing bodies are placing increasing emphasis on the importance of out-of-competition testing as a means of deterring cheats. It was at an out-of-competition test in Kilkenny in January when the urine sample of the Olympic gold medal swimmer, Michelle de Bruin, was tampered with, resulting in the four-year ban which was handed down yesterday. Prior to that test, De Bruin had missed at least three out-of-competition tests in the previous two years, but the rules of Fina, the swimming world body, had no effective sanctions for such evasiveness.

Yesterday, the IAAF was at pains to stress that the punishment was not because of any suggestion of a failed drug test or any refusal to test by the sanctioned athletes.

De Madonna said the claim that the IAAF could not find the athletes for a second test was "bullshit". "They are just trying to make examples of these two athletes. If I don't get an explanation from the IAA. I will take action," he said.

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