OLYMPIC GAMES: Russian caught in drug test

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The Russian weightlifter Yuri Myshkovets, the European champion in the under-83 kilogram class, has failed a drugs test and has been barred from going to Atlanta.

The Russian coach, Armen Nalbandyan, said that Myshkovets had been sent home from a training camp in Podolsk, just outside Moscow, after testing positive for a banned substance in tests ordered by the weightlifting federation after a series of recent doping scandals.

"After being burned several times before, we do not trust anyone, even ourselves," Nalbandyan said. "We are very tough now and decided to test everyone."

The positive test came as a surprise for the national federation, he said, but Myshkovets had been sent home to his native St Petersburg. Further action against him will be decided later. Nalbandyan did not identify the substance for which he had tested positive.

The news is the latest in a series of drugs scandals which have already affected the centennial Games, which begin on Saturday.

The Australian sprinter Dean Capobianco has been suspended by his national governing body after a positive drugs test, while the Italian high jumper Antonella Bevilacqua tested positive for the banned stimulant ephedrine twice in May, but has yet to be banned by her national federation.

This has sparked a serious row with the International Amateur Athletic Federation, who could even suspend the Italian federation if it fails to act.

Organisers of the Olympic three-day event have admitted that they are prepared to stop the event if Atlanta's renowned heat and humidity become too severe.

Hugh Thomas, the Englishman charged with overseeing the horse trials as the technical delegate of the International Equestrian Federation, said that while abandonment is unlikely, it does remain a possibility. "If it comes to it we will," he admitted. "We're not going to go blithely on if conditions get to a stage where we can't be confident of what we're doing."

The Galway boxer Francis Barrett has been chosen to carry the Irish flag at tomorrow's opening ceremony. The 19-year-old light-welterweight, competing in only his third senior international tournament, was selected by Ireland's Olympic Committee.