Modahl verdict expected today

ATHLETICS
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Diane Modahl's immediate fate hung in the balance last night after a five-strong British Athletic Federation panel had spent the day hearing highly technical evidence to support the 800 metres runner's claim that she was not guilty of doping abus e.

Modahl, who faces a four-year ban after a sample taken at a meeting in Lisbon in June showed up hugely abnormal levels of testosterone, will hear their decision today. If she is cleared, she will be free to run anywhere in the world, although the International Amateur Athletic Federation has reserved the right to rule on any decision.

Accompanied by her husband and coach, Vicente, Modahl arrived at the hearing at London's Bloomsbury Court hotel looking smart and composed, sporting a new hairstyle and dressed in a chequered outfit of black and white. It was perhaps the only black and white in evidence on a day when the panel heard what the BAF spokesman, Tony Ward, described as an unusually complex and technical case.

The small room in the hotel was crowded with nearly 20 people, including legal representatives for both sides, and two observers, Professor Peter Radford, the BAF executive chairman, and Sir Arthur Gold, chairman of the British drug advisory committee which will consider the panel's decision.

But the hearing went ahead without the presence of representatives from the Lisbon laboratory which processed the sample. Dr Jorge Barbosa, who supervised the testing, and Professor Lessups Reys, the scientific director, both Government employees, were both invited - there was no mandate to order them - but were presumed by the BAF to have been unable to obtain the necessary clearance.

Among the supposed defences for Modahl are that her abnormal testosterone-to-epistestosterone level of 42:1 was caused by a medical condition, and that her sample had degenerated after being left in a warm room for two days, during which time it was possible that micro-organisms had changed epi-testosterone into testosterone.

The IAAF spokesman, Christopher Winner, said yesterday that Modahl's sample had been in a batch of eight."They all showed deterioration," Winner said."But the only one which showed a high ratio of testosterone was Modahl's.

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