Olympic Games: Weightlifting: British lifters win no reprieve

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(First Edition)

THE TWO British weightlifters sent home from the Olympics for failing drug tests will not be returning to Barcelona. The British Olympic Association confirmed yesterday that the suspension of Andrew Saxton and Andrew Davies will stand while denying there had been a confusion of gold- medal proportions.

The two weightlifters, both 25, were tested on 10 and 11 June when traces of Clenbuterol, which is both an anabolic steroid and a stimulant, were found. Neither denied taking the drug but both claimed they had used it to cure asthmatic problems. At the same time, the athlete Jason Livingston was also suspended after traces of another drug, Methandienone, were discovered.

The respective sports bodies were informed on Tuesday, and Livingston, Saxton and Davies sent home the following day. Livingston has not appealed officially since but the weightlifters' move to contest the decision has brought with it 48 hours of rumour and mix-up.

Saxton and Davies' appeal revolved around whether the drug, which is not licensed in Britain, is prohibited out of as well as in competition. Had it been only a stimulant, International Olympic Committee rules would have permitted its use in training.

The IOC Medical Commision confirmed yesterday, however, that Clenbuterol was a banned substance on the grounds that it 'promotes muscle growth and alters body composition'. It was classified as a Class C drug, an androgenic anabolic steroid.

Questions were being asked yesterday as to why the Sports Council had described Clenbuterol as an anabolic agent and not a steroid, which had necessitated clarification, and why the BOA had not sought this information before ordering the weightlifters home.

Dick Palmer, the BOA General Secretary, described the issue of banned drugs as a 'very grey area'. He continued: 'As soon as the British Amateur Weightlifting Association received the letter from the Sports Council confirming that Davies and Saxton had failed drug tests their rules dictated that they had to immediately suspend them.

Saxton, a Commonwealth Games gold medallist two years ago, and Davies, who was Britain's leading weightlifting medal hope, had been due to compete tonight and tomorrow respectively. Under weightlifting rules they have the right to appeal within 14 days.