Athletics: Devers vows to clear her name after drugs test controversy

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Gail Devers has surmounted many a barrier in her life – not least of them the life-threatening thyroid disorder Grave's Disease – and the fastest ever female sprinter-cum-hurdler arrived in Britain yesterday vowing to clear her name from the latest drugs-related controversy to hit track and field.

It was revealed at the Winter Olympics last week that the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) had withheld prize money from several United States team members who won medals at the World Championships in Edmonton last summer, because they had not undergone the required minimum of two out-of-competition drug tests in the previous 12 months.

Devers, the silver medallist in the 100 metres hurdles, was the most notable name on the list but the 35-year-old two-time Olympic 100m champion, in Birmingham to compete in the Norwich Union Indoor Grand Prix meeting at the National Indoor Arena tomorrow, insisted yesterday that she had documented proof of being regularly tested – and that she would fight until she received her $30,000 prize money.

"I haven't got my money," Devers said. "But I also haven't got a piece of paper saying that I'm not getting it either. I keep forms of every drug test I've ever had and when it comes down to it and they look at each case individually I feel very confident that I'm going to get my money.

"I don't know about anyone else, but I know I'm tested quite often, and in every realm of it, in competition, out of competition. I've had people calling at 10.30 at night."

Meanwhile, the Sports Minister Richard Caborn launched the construction of a £28m centre for élite athletes in Sheffield yesterday. The English Institute of Sport centre will provide a regional base for the top athletes and is part of a national drive to improve facilities.

Sport England have provided £23.5m of National Lottery money for the site, which is due to open in spring next year. The centre will contain a National Indoor Athletics Centre with a six-lane indoor track and 132-metre straight sprint, a throwing area and capacity for up to 2,000 seats; a badminton centre; state-of-the-art sports science and sports medicine facilities, recovery areas for athletes, a hydrotherapy pool with moveable floor and a flotation tank.