Drugs in sport: Atlanta athletes face ban

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The Independent Online
Four Olympic competitors face drug bans if the International Olympic Committee decides to re-test their urine samples from the Atlanta Games.

The IOC medical director, Patrick Schamash, has revealed there had been four unannounced "positive results" from Atlanta for anabolic steroids. But he said the IOC had not been satisfied about the reliability of the testing procedures conducted on the high resolution mass spectrometer, used for the first time at an Olympics in Atlanta.

"They were positive results," he said. "Not positive cases. We are not 100 per cent sure that the tests were positive. We don't want to spoil the athletes' lives if we are not 100 per cent sure. We want to be very clear."

Schamash said a decision on whether or not to re-test the athletes' samples would be made in the next two weeks. The IOC has not revealed which athletes, and which sports they competed in, were involved.

"We will decide whether to re-test," he said. "There's no wish to hide something."

The Bulgarian women's triple jumper, Iva Prandzheva, and the Russian women's hurdler, Natalya Shekodanova, tested positive for steroids in Atlanta on the standard mass spectrometer and were banned for four years.

In Toronto, the Canadian sprinter Ben Johnson, banned for life in 1993 after a second positive drug test, wants to be reinstated so he can run again and prove he is still "the best sprinter" in the world.

"I just want to re-write the books, and prove that I am still the best sprinter that ever ran track and field. I want to go back on the international circuit," he said.

Athletes setting world records at next year's Athens World Championships could earn a $100,000 (pounds 61,000) bonus, International Amateur Athletic Federation sources said yesterday. The IAAF council will make a formal decision next month whether to introduce prize-money at both its indoor and outdoor world championships.