Drugs In Sport: De Bruin claims given support by chemist

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The Independent Online
THE MULTIPLE Olympic champion, Michelle de Bruin has seized on the supposed fallibility of urine test methods alleged by a chemist acting for the shot-putter Paul Edwards to support her challenge to a four-year ban imposed last year.

De Bruin's solicitor will use the video of a demonstration of how a sample container seal could be opened and resealed without detection in the swimmer's appeal in Lausanne on 3 May to the Court for Arbitration in Sport.

De Bruin (nee Smith) was banned for four years last August by swimming's governing body, Fina. It held that a sample analysed by its approved laboratory in Barcelona had been manipulated by the swimmer, but was unable to say how this was done.

The Irish athlete, who won three golds at the Atlanta Olympics, has been under constant scrutiny since another shot-putter with his own history of drug-test controversy, her husband Eric de Bruin, took over her coaching with striking results. He was himself once suspended for alleged use of a banned substance.

Asked if the Edwards discovery, by chemist Dr David Brown, was a boost for her case, she replied: "It certainly is. It is something we had known about for some time, but we just weren't unable to get the Versa Paks [the Fina-approved sample containers]... to prove this."

She said the container used in taking her sample was an older type which had proved very difficult to obtain. "Versa Paks knew there was a problem with it so they recalled all of this type of canister. We had known for some time that the Versa Paks could be tampered with and re-sealed, and there would be no visible evidence that they had been tampered with."

The Edwards demonstration, in London on Tuesday, showed the container could be opened and resealed within three minutes using a kettle, string and a knife by Edward's lawyer's secretary.

De Bruin said: "We will be getting a video of this and I assume Peter [Lennon, De Bruin's solicitor] will be following this up. If it comes to a full hearing, we will be bringing the video and possibly Dr Brown with us."

In denying she was guilty of tampering with the sample, De Bruin's legal team last August focused on weaknesses in the test containers, saying they were liable to pop open if placed in boiling water, claiming her samples could have been tampered with at a later date.

Dougie Walker, the sprinter who has provided a suspect sample and has been suspended pending a hearing, will not benefit from the chemist's discovery. The UK Sports Council no longer uses the same testing equipment in their doping programme.