IAAF acts to reinstate drugs ban on Yegorova

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The Independent Online

Olga Yegorova, controversially reinstated to the World Championship 5,000 metres here after her positive doping result was invalidated on a technicality, looks likely to be re-suspended before the event gets under way on Thursday following a further test.

Istvan Gyulai, the general secretary of the International Association of Athletics Federations, says an out-of-competition test was conducted on the 29-year-old Russian a few days after her EPO positive from the Paris Golden League meeting on 6 July. And he hinted that the findings would see her excluded once again from the Championships, which would then release the Olympic 5,000m champion Gabriela Szabo from her promise to boycott the event if Yegorova was allowed to run. "The IAAF has done its own testing and I know that Yegorova was a part of it," Gyulai said. "We want to release the results as soon as possible. It will be before Thursday. That's why I say to Miss Szabo, 'Have no worries'."

The testing programme which Gyulai describes is believed to have targeted a number of leading middle distance runners at short notice while they were out-of-competition. If it took place within five-to-seven days of the test Yegorova underwent after setting the world's fastest 3,000m time this year in Paris, then according to medical experts there would still be evidence of the presence of the banned blood-booster.

If the IAAF is able to provide the evidence it needs to withdraw the Russian once again, then it will save itself from further embarrassment in what has already been a public relations disaster which has threatened to damage the integrity of the sport.

Arne Ljungqvist, the chairman of the IAAF doping commission, admitted that Yegorova could not remain sus- pended following the positive finding as the laboratory concerned had failed to take a blood sample needed to corroborate the urine test.

Szabo is refusing to comment about the situation until she has run the 1500m final today, but her manager, Jos Hermens, said yesterday that he thought she was more likely to run the 5,000m than not.

The Yegorova situation will also be monitored by Paula Radcliffe, who has expressed her outrage at the Russian's presence here, as she prepares for the 10,000m final today.

Britain's World Cross Country and Half-Marathon champion, wants to turn the silver she earned at these Championships last time round into gold. She sees her two main obstacles as the Ethiopian pair of Gete Wami, who outsprinted her to the world title in 1999, and Derartu Tulu, winner of an Olympic final where Radcliffe finished fourth. "I don't think you can run away from the field any more," she said. "You have to find other ways to win that are different and I definitely believe that's possible for me."

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