Britain's former world champion triathlete Spencer Smith has been cleared of doping allegations by the Court of Arbitration for Sport in New York and may now pursue his attempt to win a medal at the Olympics in the summer.
Smith has fought a 17-month battle to clear his name after a routine test at the Hawaii Ironman race in October 1998 revealed traces of the banned steroid nandrolone. He had been placed fifth at the Hawaii event but, in November 1998, he was told by the British Triathlon Association that tests carried out at the International Olympic Committee-accredited laboratory in Los Angeles had shown up traces of nandrolone.
An independent BTA disciplinary panel cleared Smith in March 1999, stating there was no case for him to answer because of a lack of evidence. USA Triathlon, the body which sanctioned the Hawaii race, appealed to the appeals board of the sport's world governing body, the International Triathlon Union, but it was rejected in September 1999 because of a lack of key scientific evidence from the laboratory. The ITU and USAT took the case on appeal again, this time to the ultimate appeals court, the CAS. After a lengthy hearing in New York, the CAS rejected the latest appeal.
Smith said: "It's a fantastic feeling to have proved my innocence. But I've had to do that at three separate hearings, so it's been a difficult time for me and my family.
"Now I can get on with my life without carrying this huge burden on my shoulders. It's difficult to shake off the stigma of such an allegation, but I've won all three rounds of my fight so I feel totally vindicated."
Robert Burnell, Smith's manager, said: "There's no good reason to keep him out of the Olympics - and that's been part of the problem because he's a real contender, and I'm sure there were plenty of people who wanted him out of the way."