Diagana to miss the Olympics

Athletics
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The Independent Online
Stephane Diagana, the world 400 metres hurdles bronze medallist, has pulled out of the French team for next month's Olympics with a foot injury.

"There was no solution," said the 27-year-old European record holder. "One month ahead of the Games, there was too much work to do. It was impossible. I didn't want to make it worse."

Antonella Bevilacqua, the high jumper who last month failed two dope tests for the banned stimulant ephedrine, was yesterday named in Italy's squad for Atlanta.

The Italian athletic federation (Fidal) argued that there are no grounds to ban her from international competition, although the squad has to be approved by the Italian Olympic Committee later this week.

An Italian judicial enquiry cleared Bevilacqua of blame after the first positive test in Milan on 4 May, but a ruling has yet to be made on the second positive test in Bologna on 26 May.

Fidal has sent the International Amateur Athletic Federation all the details of their enquiry into the first case for a final ruling.

The Monte Carlo-based IAAF have a mandatory three-month ban for ephedrine, but an International Olympic Committee ruling allows leeway for errors made in good faith providing they are not due to negligence or imprudence.

The decision to include Bevilacqua in the Olympic squad could lead to the athlete competing at Atlanta while being subject to an IAAF ban or inquiry.

But the Fidal president, Gianni Gola, insisted the scenario was unlikely: "I don't believe the IAAF will do it [impose a ban] because competing in the Olympics is governed by IOC rules. I think it's clear that since the federation judge applied an IOC ruling, no rules have been broken."

Billy Konchella, twice the world 800m champion, ruled himself out of Kenya's team yesterday, saying he was in no shape to compete. "I am not coming to Nairobi for the trials [starting tomorrow]," he said. "I have been down with knee problems and I am now undergoing treatment. My doctors have not allowed me to do speed training yet," said Konchellah from his summer home in the Netherlands.

"It is disappointing that I cannot do the trials and cannot do the Olympics. This would have to be my last opportunity to try to win an Olympic place. Sydney [2000] will be too late," added Konchellah, who turns 34 in October.

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