No track races for Modahl until May

Athletics
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The Independent Online
Diane Modahl, who ran her first competitive race on Wednesday night since being sent home from the 1994 Commonwealth Games, will wait until May before returning to the track.

Modahl, who is still awaiting international confirmation of the British Athletic Federation's decision to clear her of a doping offence, took part in her first event in 18 months when she entered a four-mile road race around the Derby County football ground. She won the women's race in 22min 56sec.

It had always been her plan to ease herself back into competition in a low-key event which did not involve her running her specialist distance of 800 metres. The decision to enter the race at Derby was taken at short notice and none of the other 25 competitors knew she was taking part until she turned up at the start line.

"It was a milestone for her," said her husband and coach, Vicente. "The fact that she was able to put on a start number - No 4 - felt very significant, although she will definitely not be running on the track before May.

"Afterwards people were coming up to her and shaking her hand and thanking her for all she was doing for athletes."

Modahl, whose four-year ban for testosterone abuse was quashed on appeal by the British Athletic Federation last summer, claims that the International Amateur Athletic Federation's drug testing procedure has been at fault in her case.

She is currently free to run anywhere, but the IAAF has retained the option of reimposing her sentence through an arbitration panel. However, the case has been referred back to the IAAF Council Meeting in Cape Town on 24-25 March, and the world governing body say they will "discuss the case fully" at that point. The Modahls believe that this indicates that the case will be dropped completely.

Earlier on Wednesday, Modahl announced she was seeking compensation from BAF in the High Court for legal fees and loss of earnings. The federation, which is expected to announce a pounds 300,000 loss at next month's annual meeting, is "vigorously" contesting the claim, which is certain to be into six figures.

Tony Ward, the BAF spokesman, said: "This action will be contested vigorously. We have followed the letter of the law to the nth degree in a most difficult case. "We have carried out our responsibilities meticulously and certainly there is nothing in our rules empowering us to give compensation."

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