Research bolsters Richardson Games bid

Mark Richardson will receive the backing of Sir Rodney Walker, chairman of UK Sport, to realise his ambition of competing at the Sydney Olympics in September. However, that may not be enough to convince the International Amateur Athletic Federation, the world governing body, to allow the Commonwealth Games silver medallist at 400 metres to resume his career.

Mark Richardson will receive the backing of Sir Rodney Walker, chairman of UK Sport, to realise his ambition of competing at the Sydney Olympics in September. However, that may not be enough to convince the International Amateur Athletic Federation, the world governing body, to allow the Commonwealth Games silver medallist at 400 metres to resume his career.

On Tuesday, Richardson was exonerated by a disciplinary panel of UK Athletics of all doping charges against him, following a positive drug test for the banned anabolic steroid nandrolone last October.

Richardson was cleared to compete after new research from Aberdeen University - in which the runner himself participated in the tests - that showed it is possible that by-products of the banned drug could be found in an athlete's urine if they combined hard training with food supplements.

Speaking at yesterday's publication of the annual doping report, Professor Vivian James, chairman of UK Sport's nandrolone review committee, described the Aberdeen study as "of very considerable importance and interest".

But he added: "It is still only a pilot study at a very preliminary stage. It is unlikely that we will have the full report until the end of the year."

Judging by the noises emanating from the Monte Carlo headquarters of the IAAF, that could prove to be three months too late for Richardson's Olympic hopes. Giorgio Reinari, the IAAF spokesman, said: "We are aware of the UK study. The Council will look at the conclusions when it is complete."

That could mean Richardson - like the former Olympic 100m champion Linford Christie, Doug Walker, the European 200m champion, and Gary Cadogan - could have his case referred to arbitration, scuppering his Olympic chances.

Sir Rodney Walker will support the 400 metre runner, however. "In view of the information that's become available, we will write to the IAAF and get them up to date with the preliminary findings of the Aberdeen research. I will sign the letter myself," Sir Rodney said.

Christie, Cadogan and Dougie Walker have been suspended from competition by the IAAF since last November, pending their arbitration hearings, although on Tuesday Walker obtained an injunction in the London High Court to allow him to race in the meantime. The IAAF hearing for all three Britons is now expected to be staged in the week following the British Olympic trials in Birmingham next month.

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