Judges throw out £1m Modahl claim

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The Independent Online

Diane Modahl , whose athletics career was blighted by drug-taking allegations until she was found to be innocent, lost her legal claim for £1m compensation at the Court of Appeal yesterday.

The 35-year-old has said that she has spent more than £1m fighting for damages since the British Athletics Federation (BAF) imposed a ban that "stole" her chance to win a gold medal at the 1994 Commonwealth Games, and took away her best years in the sport.

Ms Modahl took her case to the Court of Appeal, alleging bias on the part of a disciplinary committee, which imposed the four-year ban in December 1994, six months after urine tests in Lisbon allegedly showed a high level of the male sex hormone testosterone. An independent appeal panel lifted the ban in July 1995, after doubts were cast on the accuracy of the tests.

Lord Justice David Latham said in a judgment yesterday that he could see no justification for Ms Modahl's assertion that Mr Douglas Brown, a High Court judge, was wrong in acquitting the disciplinary panel of actual bias.

He and Lord Justices Mance and Jonathan Parker dismissed her appeal.

Ms Modahl, who is training abroad and was not in court, said in a statement: "I do not intend to appeal further and now I can concentrate on my other activities.

"This case was not about whether I was guilty of doping. I proved my innocence six years ago. It was about whether BAF should compensate me for what they had done."

Ms Modahl, the 1990 Commonwealth 800m gold medallist, is still in training and has been involved in presenting sports programmes for BBC North West in Manchester, where she lives with her husband and coach, Vicente, and their young daughter. After selling their two homes to pay for the appeal, the family now lives with Ms Modahl's parents in Sale.

Her husband said yesterday: "At the moment, Diane is training 10 times a week and deciding whether she's going to run in the Commonwealth Games in Manchester in July.

"She needs some time to think. This has taken us seven years and 43 days and we are very, very tired. We're not going to the House of Lords with our case because we don't believe the courts are prepared to regard sport as work."