Athletics: Walker awaits drug verdict but misses Seville

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The Independent Online
DOUG WALKER, the European 200 metres champion facing a two-year suspension for doping abuse, returned home to Scotland yesterday still awaiting his fate after a hearing.

The three-man disciplinary committee finished hearing evidence at noon and withdrew to consider its verdict. According to the UK Athletics spokes- person, Jayne Pearce, an announcement is expected either today or tomorrow.

The 25-year-old Edinburgh athlete, who tested positive for the banned anabolic steroid Nandrolone last December, has always said he has no idea how the substance showed up in his urine sample. Walker's arguments are being considered by a panel of Ian Mill QC, Mike Turner, a doctor and former British Olympic team manager, and physiology expert Professor Ron Maughan. However, it emerged yesterday that he does not wish to be considered for next month's World Championhsips even if he wins his case.

Britain's chief coach, Max Jones, who yesterday announced the bulk of Britain's team for Seville following the weekend's trials, said: "Doug's coach has indicated that Doug is not really in the right physical condition and that he intends to take this season off." Jones had earlier made a point of leaving the door open.

Last week the UK Athletics chief executive, Dave Moorcroft, went out of his way to include Diane Modahl in the World Championship picture despite the fact that the 800m runner pulled out of the trials because of the stress associated with her legal battle to receive compensation after her successful appeal against a doping ban. Modahl, part of whose claim collapsed in the House of Lords last week, received the relatively good news yesterday that she had a place in the 800m.

Also selected in that event is Kelly Holmes, a decisive winner at the trials, whose name has been put down additionally in the 1500m, offering her a choice.

One of the few contentious areas following the largely predictable trials concerned the javelin thrower Mick Hill, last year's European silver medallist, who narrowly failed to secure one of the first three places in Birmingham on Sunday. Encouraged by his success last summer, Hill gave up his job to concentrate on training full-time for the World Championships and Olympic Games.

He was relieved yesterday to be given a discretionary place alongside trials winner and training partner, Steve Backley. The selectors took into account his outstanding competitive record in the last 15 years and the fact that he had achieved the World Championship qualifying mark this year.

Jones said that it would be unrealistic to expect the same medal haul in Seville as Britain achieved in last summer's European Championships. "No one should expect a repeat of the nine golds in Budapest, but if we come back from Seville with less than six medals of any colour I will be disappointed."