Slaney in drugs ban

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The Independent Online
THE American athlete Mary Slaney has been suspended from competition by the International Amateur Athletic Federation after a positive dope test, it was revealed yesterday. "The suspension decision for Mary Slaney was taken on Friday night during our council in Athens," an IAAF spokesman, Giorgio Reineri, said.

Jim Coleman, a lawyer for Slaney, reacted to the news in a telephone interview from his home in Durham, North Carolina. "If this is true, it would represent an extraordinary departure from the rules and practices that govern the sport. It would herald a troubling relationship between the international federation and other national federations," he said.

"There is a procedure in place for dealing with these issues. We are following the procedure. I think the IAAF ought to stay out of it. If this is true, I expect our federation will oppose it. I don't think our federation would sit by and let the international federation ignore the rules that govern these issues."

Sandra Farmer-Patrick, another American runner, was banned by the US Track and Field Association for four years earlier this month for testing positive for the steroid testosterone, but Reineri said the IAAF had yet to be informed of the ban. "We have nothing yet from the US on any ban decision concerning Farmer-Patrick so she was suspended as well," he said.

IAAF president Primo Nebiolo said all athletes testing positive would from now on be suspended immediately. The IAAF decision was prompted by what it considered to be the sluggish handling of the doping cases involving Farmer-Patrick and Slaney by the US Track and Field Association. Farmer-Patrick ran in the Atlanta Olympics despite the positive test because the case had not been concluded.

Slaney's case is not yet over. She was found to have high levels of testosterone in her body at the US trials last June. "Slaney will not compete until the US Track and Field Association decides on her case." Reineri said.

Under IAAF rules, athletes are banned immediately after the positive test pending an inquiry. But under US regulations an athlete is not suspended until the competitor has had time to have a hearing, if required.

The Toronto Star, meanwhile, was getting very excited about tonight's self-styled One-to-One Challenge between Michael Johnson and the home runner Donovan Bailey. "Showdown" was the word emblazoned across the paper's sports section after the two Olympic champions had obliged with boxing contest barbs on the eve of their $1m contest over 150m in the SkyDome.

But for the late intervention of the Toronto businessman Edward Cogan, however, "Meltdown" might have been a more appropriate headline. Johnson's agent, Brad Hunt, said the meeting was in jeopardy as late as Wednesday because the promoters, Magellan Entertainment, were "stretched beyond the limit" financially. But Mr Cogan has provided the necessaries, and the two athletes, who each receive $500,000 before contesting the $1m prize, are said to be "comfortable" with the arrangements.

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