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Jamaican Sprinter Reinstated

July 3, 2000

MONTE CARLO, Monaco (AP) _ Jamaican sprinter Merlene Ottey had her two-year ban for steroid use lifted Monday after an international track panel said the lab improperly tested her urine sample.

The decision meant the former world champion and Olympic silver medalist was immediately eligible to compete.

The IAAF, track and field’s world governing body, said in a statement that its three-man arbitration panel had decided after a hearing last month ``there were not the grounds to maintain the suspension of Merlene Ottey from competition.″

``Accordingly, the suspension ... ended with immediate effect,″ the statement said.

The IAAF said the panel found fault with the testing laboratory, which ``had not taken into sufficient account factors regarding the specific gravity of the sample which as a result did not exceed the IOC (International Olympic Committee) recommended reporting threshold.″

Ottey, winner of 34 individual medals in major international championships, hopes to compete in the Sydney Olympics at 40.

Ottey, a former world 200-meter champion, runnerup in the 100 and 200 at the 1996 Olympics and one of the most decorated athletes in the sport, tested positive for the steroid nandrolone at a meet in Switzerland in July 1999. She denied taking the drug and was cleared by the Jamaican federation.

The IAAF refused to accept the Jamaicans’ ruling and sent her case to its arbitration panel, composed of Christoph Vedder of Germany, Monty Hacker of South Africa and James Murphy of the United States.

Nandrolone is a steroid that is easily detectable in standard drug tests. But there has been a spate of positive nandrolone cases around the world over the past year, prompting speculation that the drug is contained in nutritional supplements.

Vedder, the panel chairman, said the case would be an important test for sports law regarding nandrolone.

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