Drugs in Sport: Edwards denies taking drugs: 'Heartbroken' shot putter emerges from seclusion to try to clear his name

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The Independent Online
PAUL EDWARDS, the shot putter sent home from the Commonwealth Games by England last month after an adverse drug finding, has come out of hiding to protest his innocence. 'I categorically deny knowingly taking any banned substances at any time during my athletics career,' he said yesterday.

The 35-year-old, the 1990 Commonwealth bronze medalist, faces a four-year ban after he tested positive twice in three days. One of the results is alleged to have shown a cocktail of drugs, including anabolic steroids and clenbuterol. Tests on second samples are awaited in both cases.

Edwards, still recovering from a stomach complaint, appeared ashen-faced at the London offices of Jacques and Lewis, the solicitors who are representing him in the fight to clear his name.

Catherine Bond, the lawyer handling the case, has written to the British Athletic Federation stating Edwards's displeasure that they broke their own rules by announcing the result of the A test before informing him and also requesting more details of the situation. They have not yet received a reply.

Edwards was tested three times between 12 and 16 August. Firstly, by the European Athletic Association after he failed to qualify for the final of the European Championships. Then again two days later in the athletes' village in Helsinki. And finally, back in England by the Sports Council on the day he left for Victoria, after they received a tip-off from the EAA. He is alleged to have failed the second and third tests.

Edwards was taken ill on the flight to Canada with a bad stomach and taken to hospital in Victoria. He did not eat or drink for nine days and his weight dropped from 20 stone to 17st. It was while he was in hospital he was told by Alan Lindop, the England manager, that there was 'something wrong' with his tests.

Upon his return to England, Edwards was in hospital for five days, and has spent the last three weeks recovering. His lawyer said they were looking into the 'possibility' of the illness being behind the positive results.

Edwards returned home on the same flight as Diane Modahl, though it was several days later before he discovered that her early departure was also drugs-related. Compared to Modahl, the only blanket coverage he has received is when he left the flight at Heathrow Airport on a stretcher. 'I did that because I didn't want to upset my girlfriend or family,' he said.

Privately, Edwards has spoken regularly about the widespread use of drugs in his event, but always said he was not prepared to use them, even though he claimed one Olympic medallist encouraged him to. 'I'm absolutely heartbroken. This is like the end of my life,' he said.