Athletics: Wariso out after drugs test: British sprinter withdrawn from European Championship team

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The Independent Online
SOLOMON WARISO, who has tested positive for a banned stimulant, was yesterday withdrawn from the British team here in a move which was opposed by the men's captain, Linford Christie.

The British Athletic Federation has accepted that Wariso made a genuine mistake in taking an American- produced herbal remedy - challengingly named Up Your Gas - which contained traces of ephedrine. But it does not intend to appeal if a test on the B sample, due later this week, confirms the initial finding on the urine sample taken from the 200 metres runner at the Gateshead meeting on 1 July.

Christie, who had no trouble yesterday qualifying for the 100m semi-finals in his first races since injuring a hamstring on 15 July, shepherded Wariso away from the press conference. Christie said he had argued long and hard with the British management that the 27-year-old - who is technically innocent of any offence until a positive test on the B sample - should be given a chance to argue his case with the International Amateur Athletic Federation.

The situation had a particular resonance for Christie, who was cleared to continue racing at the 1988 Olympics when his sample after the 200 metres final showed traces of the stimulant pseudoephedrine, which he said came from a ginseng preparation taken for a sore throat. The IOC medical commission decided after a five-hour hearing that the traces present were too small to constitute 'a doping situation'.

Christie said yesterday: 'I have great sympathy for Solomon because I was there myself in Seoul.'

The BAF executive chairman, Professor Peter Radford, said that no laboratory was likely to find a B sample which differed from an A sample, and that evidence of recent similar cases suggested there would not be sufficent grounds to appeal.

As the statutory three- month ban would be retrospective from 1 July, anything Wariso did here would be deleted from the records. 'That,' Radford said, 'would not be in the interests of the athlete, or the European Championships, or the sport as a whole. We have no alternative.'

Radford said there would be a protest at the length of time the IAAF had taken to process the test. Notification arrived on Thursday, and Radford's first opportunity of delivering a formal letter to Wariso was when they both arrived here on Friday.

Wariso, meanwhile, has no alternative but to contemplate a summer which no longer contains either the European Championships or the Commonwealth Games - a bitter end to a season in which he had emerged for the first time as an international medal contender.

He said he was given a bottle containing six tablets by another British male athlete who had bought the herbal compound in Florida. The athlete, a longstanding friend of Wariso's, assured him that they contained no banned substances and that he had passed a drugs test while using them.

Of the six tablets, one was lost, three remain and two were taken by Wariso half an hour before he raced at Gateshead, where he finished second to the world champion Frankie Fredericks in 20.88sec.

Wariso said he had a cold sore at the time and was feeling run down after a busy period of training and working - he is a freelance journalist who writes on films for Screen Mirror, a Daily Mirror supplement. He has also produced a science fiction screenplay which prompted hopeful noises from a TV producer.

The Haringey athlete also holds a degree in biochemistry from the Central London Polytechnic. He checked through the long list of ingredients on the container, which he produced for inspection yesterday. But his suspicions were not aroused by the presence of ma huang - which consists of Chinese Ephedra, containing the banned substance.

The sales pitch on the garishly labelled container - 'distributed by Natural Health Products, Orlando, Florida' - was dreadful with dramatic irony. 'Here's the most potent pill of its kind on the market] It's called Up Your Gas. If you think the name is outrageous, wait till you feel the kick it delivers . . ] And yet, it's all safe and natural. Sure, some people laugh when they hear the name. But once they try it . . . the laughing stops. Once you try Up Your Gas your day may never be the same again.'

Malcolm Brown, the British team doctor, estimated that the two pills Wariso took would have had no performance-enhancing effect whatsoever. 'It was probably not as powerful as a cup of coffee.'

Yesterday's action, page 30

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