Ngugi reinstated by IAAF

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Kenya's five-times world cross country champion, John Ngugi, banned for four years in 1993 after refusing an out-of-competition drug test, has been cleared to compete by the International Amateur Athletic Federation.

The IAAF's 23-man council, meeting in Gothenburg yesterday, voted unanimously to reinstate the 33-year-old former Olympic 5,000 metres champion, a decision that reflects widespread doubt about the case and vindicates the campaign Ngugi and the Kenyan athletic association have waged in the last two years. It will also do no harm to Primo Nebiolo's standing with African Council members as he seeks re-election to the IAAF presidency.

The Council concluded Ngugi was not well informed about the procedure and had had difficulty understanding instructions given to him at the time in English.

The ban was imposed after Ngugi refused a random dope test at his home 125 miles north of Nairobi, in February 1992. He claimed the IAAF officer, Britain's former European 1500m champion John Whetton, had not properly identified himself and was not with a Kenyan official.

Whetton, conducting the first IAAF out-of-competition testing in Kenya, claimed Ngugi was an experienced international athlete with a reasonable command of English, and insisted he had followed procedure. The IAAF said Whetton had "acted correctly."

The Kenyan Amateur Athletic Association had nothing in its rules about out-of-competition testing, and the IAAF's position in enforcing it was open to question. As with the Katrin Krabbe case, the IAAF has found its authority as ultimate arbiter of sporting justice challenged. The Council agreed yesterday to appeal against this week's finding that its two-year ban on Krabbe for doping was unconstitutional.

The 1997 World Championships will be in Athens. They were to be in Mexico City, but Mexico withdrew citing economic problems. Athens beat off bids from Madrid, Stanford in California, New Delhi and Helsinki.