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Richardson hoping to be cleared

Mark Richardson has admitted that his love of athletics has been irreparably tarnished by the drugs controversy which has put his career in jeopardy.

Mark Richardson has admitted that his love of athletics has been irreparably tarnished by the drugs controversy which has put his career in jeopardy.

Britain's former European 400 metres bronze medallist will meet a UK Athletics advisory committee today, where he hopes last October's positive test for nandrolone will be quashed.

Richardson, however, is still angry at the ordeal he has been through since becoming the latest athlete to be banned for taking the substance.

"My whole career's on the line. Everything I've ever achieved in the sport has been called into question," Richardson said. "My integrity as a person has been called into question. Of course I don't feel the same way about the sport, I don't think I ever will."

Richardson's initial hearing was adjourned last week but he believes he has more reason to be confident in the light of new scientific evidence about how traces of nandrolone can find their way into athletes' bodies.

"It would seem there is new evidence which has come at just the right time for my hearing, which supports everything I've been saying all along - that an innocent athlete can get caught," Richardson said. "I'm no Ben Johnson. I've got nothing to hide. I've never taken any kind of prohibited substance in my life and of course I'd take a lie detector test."

Although hampered by niggling injuries Richardson has been training during his ban, in the belief that he will be able to compete in the British Olympic trials next month. "I just want this nightmare to be lifted and hopefully I can get on with the season and I'm sure the elation of that will mean I run better than expected," Richardson said.

Meanwhile, Britain's Mark Hylton celebrated being cleared of drug-taking by finishing second in the 400m in Saturday night's MalCup IAAF permit meeting in Budapest.

Hylton, who looks a good prospect for the Sydney Olympics, faced a two-year ban had he not been successful in overturning the positive test for nandrolone following an error in the testing process.

The 23-year-old from Windsor may have only been placed second in an ordinary time of 46.42sec, but it was his first competition since racing indoors in the winter.

Hylton, who was told about the testing error on 14 July, said: "I feel fine. I'm just glad to be running again. I was at the hearing in London when they said a mistake had been made. Now that it's all over and everything is sorted out I just want to make a fresh start to my life and career. Behind the scenes lots of people have been very supportive including UK Athletics and in particular David Moorcroft [the chief executive].

"I knew Budapest was a good track - that's why I came here. Given the circumstances I was pleased with my time. Despite everything, I have carried on as normal and have done all my training. No one has run super-quick so far this summer so I believe I have a very good chance of going to Sydney," he said.