Nebiolo defends ban on Slaney

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The Independent Online
Primo Nebiolo, the president of the International Amateur Athletic Federation, yesterday defended the decision to suspend the American runner Mary Slaney after a positive dope test.

The IAAF, which announced its decision on Saturday, was annoyed that Slaney's case had dragged on for nearly a year in the United States with no sign of a resolution.

"The IAAF has rules, and when a federation does not follow the rules then we have to do something," Nebiolo said yesterday. "We were not happy we were obliged to take this decision, but it had to be taken."

The 38-year-old Slaney, twice a world champion, was found to have unusually high levels of testosterone in her body at the United States Olympic trials in June last year.

She was allowed to continue competing, pending hearings into her case, and finished seventh in her preliminary race in the 5,000 metres at the Atlanta Olympics and second in the 1,500m at the world indoor championships in Paris in March.

Until the IAAF announcement that she would be suspended until American officials decided on her case, Slaney had said that she intended to compete in the USA Track and Field championships this month, with the aim of qualifying in the 1,500m for the world championships in Athens in August.

Slaney's husband, the British former discus thrower, Richard Slaney, accused the IAAF of "acting with malice'' and said on Saturday that they were exceeding their powers.

But Nebiolo said that sports federations had to take doping seriously and act swiftly to stamp it out.

"We have to be serious and I hope that national federations and other sports bodies will be serious in the same manner. If we are serious, the battle against doping will be successful, if not we will lose," he said.

"We will continue this campaign [of suspensions] because this is our duty. In a family the most grave care that the parents could have is some of their children taking drugs. Personally, I love all my athletes and I am very sad when one of them makes a mistake."

Nebiolo said the IAAF council were almost united in their decision to impose suspnsions on Slaney and her fellow American runner Sandra Farmer- Patrick, the 400m hurdler famed for her high fashion track outfits, who tested positive for testosterone.

"The case of the Americans was not provoked by Nebiolo. It was a decision of 27 persons. If not unanimous, it was taken with a great majority," he said.