Diack calls Ottey verdict 'a mistake'

International athletics' leading official has joined the heated nandrolone debate, describing the decision to clear Merlene Ottey of drugs charges in time for her to compete at the Olympics as "a mistake".

International athletics' leading official has joined the heated nandrolone debate, describing the decision to clear Merlene Ottey of drugs charges in time for her to compete at the Olympics as "a mistake".

"I cannot defend the decision," said Lamine Diack, president of the world governing body, the International Amateur Athletic Federation. "They made some mistakes."

His remarks may not augur well for the four Britons waiting on the outcome of next week's IAAF council meeting, when dates for arbitration hearings are set to be confirmed for Linford Christie, Doug Walker and Gary Cadogan. Mark Richardson, cleared by a domestic panel this week, may also have his case referred to arbitrators.

On Wednesday Ottey was named in Jamaica's squad for the Sydney Games. After testing positive for nandrolone last July, Ottey - just like Walker, Cadogan and Christie - had her case referred to arbitration by the IAAF. Earlier this month Ottey was cleared on a technicality over the conduct of the analysis.

In addition to Diack's comments, Professor Arne Ljungqvist, the official in charge of the IAAF's doping policy, has cast doubt over the new research conducted at Aberdeen University used to clear Richardson of doping charges. The findings suggested that a combination of hard exercise and certain food supplements could produce the by-products of nandrolone in the body.

Although the research was part-funded by the IAAF, Ljungqvist said such a "minor pilot test" would "never qualify for publication in the scientific world.

"It's a very minor report on a handful of individuals. A so-called study on four or five persons is not a study."

If he recommends to the IAAF next week that Richardson's case should be referred to arbitration, then the Commonwealth 400m silver medallist may find himself re-suspended and miss the British Olympic trials in Birmingham to be held from 11 to 13 August.

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