Athletics: Powell states intent with perfect 10

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The Independent Online

Asafa Powell served further notice of his Olympic ambitions in Lausanne last night as he produced the fastest 100 metres run on European soil this season, winning in 10.00sec.

Asafa Powell served further notice of his Olympic ambitions in Lausanne last night as he produced the fastest 100 metres run on European soil this season, winning in 10.00sec.

Powell, who last week broke the 13-year-old Jamaican record of Ray Stewart at his National Championships with a time of 9.91, accelerated in the final 20 metres of his race in the IAAF Super-Grand Prix meeting to finish clear of Francis Obikwelu, Portugal's naturalised Nigerian, who was second in 10.02sec.

The Jamaican now has three of the top six 100m times this season, with only one man timed faster - Shawn Crawford of the United States, whose mark of 9.88sec on 19 June leads this year's world rankings.

While Powell's prospects in Athens are looking increasingly good, the man who has run the 100m faster than anyone else - world-record holder Tim Montgomery - is preparing to compete in the US Olympic trials which begin in Sacramento on Friday despite the fact that he is facing a lifetime ban for doping abuse.

Montgomery has gambled on avoiding the US Anti-Doping Agency process and taking his case straight to the Court of Arbitration for Sport - based, coincidentally, in Lausanne.

But the CAS is not likely to hear his case until after the US team is due to be named on 21 July. Montgomery's fellow sprinter Chryste Gaines, also facing a lifetime ban, has taken the same course as him. Three other athletes contesting doping cases are also planning to take part in Sacramento - Alvin Harrison and Michelle Collins, who are planning to go through arbitration at USADA, and Regina Jacobs, who is appealing against a positive test for the banned steroid THG.

Crawford's compatriot Allen Johnson also enjoyed a brand new track that has been laid at a venue traditionally encouraging to sprinters - Leroy Burrell set a world record of 9.84sec at this venue in 1994. The 110m hurdles world champion ran the fastest time of the year, finishing well clear in 13.05sec - the ideal preparation for the US Olympic trials.

Morocco's world mile and 1,500m record-holder, Hicham El Guerrouj, has revealed for the first time how a debilitating problem with his breathing is threatening to rule him out of next month's Athens Olympics.

Breaking his silence on the mystery sickness before last night's meeting, the 29-year-old revealed he had struggled all year with the problem.

"I'm very worried about whether I can make the Olympics or not," said El Guerrouj. "I will make my final decision on 6 August in Zurich. I have dominated the sport for nine years but if my world ranking is not high enough at the time I may not go to Athens."

El Guerrouj saw a specialist in Toulouse shortly after first complaining of the problem. "He found I had about 10 allergies so he put me on medication for three months," he said.

"The problem isn't solved yet. I have to take medicine every day which makes me feel tired. I am still training but I have difficulties in breathing after training." El Guerrouj suffered his first defeat since coming second in the 2000 Sydney Olympics when Bahrain's Rashid Ramzi beat him in Rome last Friday.

There was a worrying development, too, for the other towering figure in world middle distance running, Ethiopia's Kenenisa Bekele, who was forced to pull out of his scheduled race in the Swiss meeting because of an Achilles tendon problem. It is a concerning development for the 21-year-old who has broken his fellow countryman Haile Gebrselassie's world records at 5,000 and 10,000 metres this season, given that the athletics programme at the Athens Olympics begins in just six weeks' time.

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