British athlete tests positive

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The Independent Online
BRITISH athletics, already struggling against falling attendances and bad publicity after the Diane Modahl drugs affair, was yesterday hit by its eighth positive drugs test in a year. Guy Marshall, a low-ranking shot-putter, has been suspended.

Marshall was ranked only 54th in Britain last year but this season has improved to 17th. His best has improved by more than a metre-and-a-half compared with a year ago. He was drug-tested at an inter-area match last May but the findings were made known only yesterday.

The British Athletic Federation's spokesman, Tony Ward, said: "It's always disappointing to get a drugs finding, but it shows the efficiency of the system." While the effectiveness of the system is not in doubt - it is probably the most intensive in Europe - the stigma of another positive test is damaging at a time when British athletes are preparing for the World Championships in Sweden next month and the sport is still searching for more sponsorship which only a clean image will secure.

Marshall is the second British shot-putter to test positive in the past year, Paul Edwards having been suspended for four years after the summer's Commonwealth Games in Canada.

Marshall's B sample has already confirmed the result of the A sample, which in the words of yesterday's federation statement "contained banned substances". The BAF has not yet disclosed the substances alleged to have been taken. A hearing will take place later this year. Should Marshall be found guilty he faces a four-year ban, which it is thought he will accept.

Butch Reynolds, the world 400m record holder, was at the centre of a drug-test mystery yesterday, after two International Amateur Athletic Federation representatives visited his Ohio home unannounced to demand a urine sample. Reynolds has been in a legal dispute with the IAAF since being suspended in 1990 for nearly two-and-a-half years after allegedly testing positive for steroids.