IAAF admits Tanui error

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The Independent Online
The world governing body yesterday admitted that the Olympic 800 metres champion, William Tanui, escaped a drugs ban 18 months ago because of a mistake in its testing procedures. An International Amateur Athletic Federation spokesman, Christopher Winner, said the Kenyan tested positive for the banned stimulant, norephedrine, at a meeting in New Delhi on 14 September 1993.

However, the three-month ban which normally follows use of the product was never imposed because of a communications mix-up between the drug- testing laboratory in Moscow and the IAAF. The latter was not notified of the result until 29 November. The Russian laboratory then tested the B sample without notifying the IAAF - and without Tanui or a representative of the Kenyan Amateur Athletic Association being present.

The IAAF decided to record the positive test, but not to impose a ban or make it public, though they warned that Tanui would be suspended for four years if he offended again. "The error amounted to the fact that he never formally served the ban," Winner said. "But, by itself, it cannot be allowed to discredit the worldwide anti-drug movement. The only mitigating factor is that the chain of events occurred when the IAAF was moving its headquarters to Monaco."

Winner insisted there was no direct link between Tanui's case and that of Britain's 800m runner, Diane Modahl, who is appealing against a four- year ban imposed after she tested positive for testosterone. Winner said: "The only connection is that she and her husband are saying that a mistake was made in her case."