Sotomayor drugs panel adjourns until June

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The Independent Online

The arbitration panel set up to rule on Javier Sotomayor's drugs controversy has adjourned the case against the long jump world record holder until June 2, track's world governing body said today.

The Cuban is appealing an International Amateur Athletic Federation suspension imposed after he tested positive for cocaine at last summer's Pan American Games in Winnipeg, Canada.

The three-man arbitration panel, which began its hearing on Friday, had been due to announce its verdict today.

"The panel decided that it needed to gather more information from two witnesses," said IAAF spokesman Giorgio Reineri. "The decision was in order to clarify everything. The panel did not want to leave any cloud or doubt to anyone. They are aware of the political implications and wanted to have no doubt."

Reineri said that the two witnesses were a member of Montreal's anti-doping laboratory and a medical representative from the Cuban track federation.

Both were questioned by the panel on Friday but returned home the following day.

Sotomayor was stripped of his gold medal at the Pan American Games but has maintained his innocence. Cuban President Fidel Castro and the country's track federation, which cleared the athlete, claims that Sotomayor's urine samples were deliberately manipulated.

If the appeal is rejected, Sotomayor faces a two-year suspension, which would rule him out of the Sydney Olympics.

The 1992 Olympic champion will be barred from competing until the June hearing, Reineri said.