Thursday, July 8, 2004

IAAF won't suspend accused U.S. athletes

By Stephen Wilson
The Associated Press

LONDON - Track and field's world governing body will not intervene to suspend American athletes facing doping allegations unless there is evidence they failed drug tests.

That means four U.S. athletes facing possible lifetime bans - but who have not tested positive for drugs - could compete in the Athens Olympics if their arbitration hearings have not been resolved by then.

"In the absence of facts, the IAAF cannot and will not do anything," IAAF general secretary Istvan Gyulai said.

Gyulai said the International Association of Athletics Federations expects the six pending U.S. doping cases will be completed before next month's Olympics.

All the cases ultimately could end up before the international Court of Arbitration for Sport, and the IAAF would have to honor the rulings even if the athletes were banned without testing positive for drugs.

USA Track & Field said Tuesday that Tim Montgomery - the 100-meter world-record holder - and the five others facing doping charges will be allowed to compete at the U.S. Olympic Trials beginning Friday in Sacramento, Calif.

Montgomery and sprinters Christye Gaines, Michelle Collins and Alvin Harrison have been notified by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency they face lifetime bans in the BALCO steroid investigation. All are contesting the allegations.

None of the four failed a drug test. USADA is acting based on "non-analytical positives," evidence gathered in the federal probe of the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative.

Gyulai dismissed suggestions by USATF chief executive Craig Masback that the IAAF would bar athletes from the Athens Olympics if they qualified but still had doping cases pending.

The U.S. Olympic Committee is due to name the Athens team by July 21. The IOC has adjusted its rules to allow for late substitutions in "exceptional circumstances." The Olympics begin Aug. 13, with the track competition starting Aug. 18.

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