Fresh boost for Modahl

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The Independent Online
Fresh evidence has emerged to support Diane Modahl, the British athlete who on Tuesday pleads her case against a long drugs ban. Lawyers representing her at a British Athletic Federation inquiry will declare that two previously unrevealed dope tes ts taken this year proved negative.

Although evidence that the 800m runner has had three negative drug tests this year will not in itself be enough to prove her innocent of taking a high level of testosterone, for which she is alleged to have proved positive in June, it could well assist her in a campaign now supported by most of Britain's leading athletes.

Of the four tests Modahl has undergone this year, only one, taken in Portugal after a minor meeting, was said to have been positive. However, the quantity of testosterone alleged was so great (42 to 1) that most experts are convinced that either the sample deteriorated by not being kept refrigerated or that Modahl created the substance naturally, possibly as a result of an illness. An International Amateur Athletic Federation spokesman confirmed that Modahl had two negative tests in the months before the meeting in Lisbon, but Professor Arne Ljungvist, head of the IAAF's medical commission, said: "It is my belief that there can only be two verdicts in this case: either she is guilty or she was ill when tested." He refused to countenance that the samplealtered or was deliberately altered, and said that even a small amount of testosterone justifies an accusation of cheating.

The case for Modahl is expected to be heard with sympathy by a British Committee of Inquiry led by Dr Martyn Lucking, but if they give her the benefit of any doubt, the battle to have her declared innocent by the IAAF will be long and hard.

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