Beach boys test positive

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The Independent Online
Drugs in sport

Two top American beach volleyball players have escaped suspensions after becoming the first athletes in the sport to fail drug tests. The International Volleyball Federation said yesterday that Mike Whitmarsh and Scott Friederlchsen tested positive for the banned stimulant, pseuodephedrine, at a World Championship Series event at Hermosa Beach, California, on 16 July.

Two separate analyses of the test results were conducted, and both confirmed the positive finding, the federation said. The players appeared at a hearing in Los Angeles and did not deny the presence of the banned substance in their samples.

The federation declared the athletes guilty of a doping offence and ordered a suspended three-month suspension. However, the suspension will not be applied because certain formalities were not respected by the US national volleyball federation.

"We have our own international procedures and the US has its own," Alain Coupat, a spokesman for the federation, said. "There was a mix-up between the two procedures. In order to avoid legal proceedings, the suspension will not go into effect." However, if the players commit a second offence they will be banned for two years.

Coupat said these were the first confirmed doping cases in beach volleyball, which introduced systematic drug testing this year ahead of its debut as an Olympic sport at next year's Centennial Games in Atlanta.