'Respected' Edwards hit with three-year ban for positive test

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The Independent Online

Shot-putter Mark Edwards has been handed a three-year ban after testing positive for two prohibited substances. The 36-year-old was given more than the standard two-year ban due to "aggravating circumstances".

The former British No 2 tested positive for both testosterone and Clostebol just before last year's Commonwealth Games. It is the first time UK Anti-Doping has successfully argued for an increase to a two-year sanction.

Edwards argued he should not have been tested as he had pulled out of the Commonwealth Games on medical grounds the day before the test and said that he intended to retire but he was told by the tribunal panel that the presence of more than one banned substance constituted aggravating circumstances. The tribunal added: "The athlete is a senior athlete and a role model in the throwing community. He runs a sports therapy business and has a history of working with disabled athletes."

Edwards had told the tribunal he had no idea how the substances came to be in his urine sample, and made claims about the testing procedure and suggested the sample may have been tampered with en route to the laboratory.

UKAD chief executive Andy Parkinson said: "The three-year suspension should send a strong message to anyone looking to dope in the UK and I hope gives clean athletes the confidence that we will aggressively pursue those who we think are cheating. We will continue to work tirelessly to protect the rights of clean athletes in the run-up to London 2012 and beyond."

Meanwhile, Olympic 100m and 200m champion Usain Bolt says he wants to play football when he retires from athletics and believes he is good enough to play for Manchester United. The world's fastest man also says he still has more work to do to get back to "tip-top shape" after an injury-hit 2010 season and aims to work on his technique when he returns home to Jamaica.

The 24-year-old hasn't kept his support of United a secret over the years and has visited the training ground a couple of times. Speaking in Oslo, Bolt told reporters that he obviously has the speed, as well as the skills, to make it as a footballer at "our club".

"I really think I want to try soccer after I retire because I've watched it over the years and I could be a good contender," he said. "I think I'd definitely have to play for Manchester United because I'm quick and I have a lot of skills. I should be good enough."

This isn't the first time he's spoken of his desire to play for United. He also talked about it in his autobiography: "Ideally, if I was to play football, I'd sign for my favourite team – Manchester United," he wrote. "People say it's not realistic but nobody has seen me play so you never know. If Alex Ferguson saw me in one of those charity matches he might think I could replace Ryan Giggs."