Backley supports drug denials

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The Independent Online

Olympic javelin thrower Steve Backley has criticized some of the world's top athletes for assuming that his British teammates are guilty of taking the banned steroid nandrolone.

Backley, the former world record-holder and 1996 Olympic silver medalist, said he believes that Doug Walker, Linford Christie and Gary Cadogan failed drug tests because the nutritional supplements they were taking were contaminated or produced an unexpected and unexplainable effect on the body.

All three athletes were cleared by UK Athletics but their cases have been sent to arbitration by the world governing body, the International Amateur Athletic Federation. A hearing is scheduled for July.

Backley, who recently completed warm-weather training in South Africa, denounced some of the international athletes he was working out with who have already convicted the trio in their minds.

"They don't believe for one second that our guys are innocent," Backley said. "That's bad, that's disappointing. Maybe it's because within the sport we've been highly successful, so maybe they want to hear that.

"I was surprised and stunned. It's like the old Russian system when a few people have been caught and they say they are all on it."

Backley, Britain's best chance to win gold in the javelin in Sydney this summer, also supports 400-meter runner Mark Richardson's claims that he did not take nandrolone. Richardson, a silver medalist in Britain's 1,600-meter relay team in Atlanta, is currently banned from competing.

"Mark isn't stupid, Mark is a clever guy. I don't believe for one minute our athletes took it deliberately. They are innocent," Backley said. "It looks like he's missed the Olympics unless he is let off by the IAAF and then the IOC would also have to agree to that."