Wariso turns on gas for personal best

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The Independent Online
Solomon Wariso completed his first competition since a three-month doping suspension with a personal-best performance at Birmingham's national indoor arena yesterday, writes Mike Rowbottom.

The 28-year-old sprinter ran the 200 metres at the low-key New Year Games in 20.99sec, bettering his previous fastest indoor time by 0.02sec. It brought him second place behind his Haringey team-mate, Darren Braithwaite, whose time of 20.87 was also a personal best, and the fifth fastest on the all-time UK indoor list.

Wariso, who took third place in the 60 metres on Saturday in a time of 6.72sec, said afterwards that he had not been nervous about competing again, but he did confess to being very tired. "I have done six races in two days," he said."I am just not used to it."

He is nevertheless clearly in the kind of form to be called up for the indoor international against Russia later this month.

If there is any doubt, the British Athletic Federation is likely to give Wariso the benefit of it. When he was sent home from the European Championships last August after the announcement that a herbal remedy he had taken had contained small quantities of the banned stimulant, ephedrine, British officials went out of their way to indicate that they considered Wariso had made a genuine mistake.

He said this weekend that most athletes he had met regarded his offence in the same light. Despite having a degree involving biochemistry, Wariso failed to realise that Ma Juang, the rogue ingredient in the remedy - garishly entitled "Up Your Gas" - which he took contained ephedrine.

"The athletes mostly made jokes, asking me if I'd paid the gas bill, but I was worried that if someone like me who knows something about science can make a mistake, anyone can," he said.

The publicity which surrounded his case made him consider retiring from the sport, but he rejected the idea.

"It was a temptation," he said. "But I thought I had to come back and prove a few people wrong."