Fri, Jul 09, 2004 - Page 22 News List

IAAF backs down on threat to ban without evidence

AP , 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.

"In the absence of facts, the IAAF cannot and will not do anything," IAAF general secretary Istvan Gyulai told AP on Wednesday.

Gyulai said the International Association of Athletics Federations hopes and expects that the six pending US doping cases will be resolved before next month's Athens Olympics.

"We would be very disappointed if they are not," he said by phone from IAAF headquarters in Monaco. "Everyone who is a stakeholder here wishes this."

USA Track & Field said Tuesday that Tim Montgomery -- the 100m world-record holder -- and five others facing doping charges would be allowed to compete at the US Olympic trials beginning Friday in Sacramento, California.

"We have no problem with that," Gyulai said. ``Whether or not they can compete in the trials, we leave it in the hands of USA Track & Field.''

Montgomery and sprinters Christye Gaines, Michelle Collins and Alvin Harrison have been notified by the US 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," circumstantial 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.

"If there is a positive test available, this is the only way the IAAF can proceed," Gyulai said. "Here, there are no positive cases. There is some analytical something we have never seen. We have to see something. Based on press reports and telephone conversations, we cannot suspend athletes who are heroes and even if they are not heroes.

"We want justice," he said. "If justice is questionable, then sorry."

Calvin Harrison, twin brother of Alvin, and distance runner Regina Jacobs are also under investigation for alleged drug violations. Jacobs allegedly tested positive last year for the designer steroid THG. Harrison faces a two-year ban after a positive test for the stimulant modafinil, his second doping offense.

Montgomery and Gaines are bypassing US procedures and taking their cases directly to the international Court of Arbitration for Sport. The other four plan to argue their cases before a US arbitration panel, but can go to CAS after that.

Gyulai said the IAAF will wait for the US rulings. If the IAAF is not satisfied with the verdicts, it can refer the cases to international arbitration.

The CAS will have arbitrators in Athens to deal with any doping or eligibility issues.

The US Olympic Committee is due to name the Athens team by July 21. However, 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.

Marion Jones, winner of five medals the 2000 Sydney Olympics, is also under investigation by USADA but has not been charged with a doping offense.

IOC president Jacques Rogge said he hopes all the US cases are resolved "as soon as possible" but without rushing to judgment.

"Athletes have their rights of defense and there are procedures which have to be respected," he told the AP.

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