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Drug Cases Hit World Championships

August 8, 2001

EDMONTON, Alberta (AP) _ Gabriela Szabo pulled away from the field in the final stretch of the 1,500 meters, then rushed out of Commonwealth Stadium without saying whether she’ll boycott the 5,000.

Szabo, who sprinted into the lead with 150 meters remaining Tuesday night to win her first world championship in the 1,500, is favored to win her third straight world title in the 5,000.

But she said last week she’ll drop out of that race if rival Olga Yegorova is allowed to run. Yegorova was suspended after testing positive for the banned endurance-boosting hormone EPO, but reinstated Sunday because the drug test was not carried out properly.

``I want to sleep all night and make the decision tomorrow,″ Szabo said after her 1,500 victory.

Szabo’s manager, Jos Hermens, said she would announce her decision Wednesday. The first round of the 5,000 is Thursday night.

``I’d like to see her racing,″ Hermens said. ``Why give medals away to admonish people, and two weeks later nobody knows she didn’t run?″

While Szabo was weighing her decision, world track officials were completing drug tests on several athletes whose initial tests at the world championships indicated possible use of EPO.

Arne Ljungqvist, the IAAF’s anti-doping chief, said blood tests on 7-to-10 atheletes _ including Yegorova _ showed elevated levels of red blood cells. That can signal the use of EPO, but high levels also can occur naturally.

Those athletes now will have urine tests to check for EPO. It was not clear when the results of those tests would be available.

A positive drug test would be the first at these championships. Venolyn Clarke, the Canadian women’s champion at 100 meters, was suspended because a premeet test showed traces of stanozolol _ the steroid that cost Ben Johnson his 1988 Olympic gold medal.

Clarke was eliminated in the second round of the 100 this past weekend, and was scheduled to run on Canada’s 400-meter relay team. Now she faces a four-year suspension.

And Brazilian 800-meter runner Fabiane dos Santos also was kicked out of the championships Tuesday because tests at a May meet in Rio de Janeiro showed her testosterone level was too high.

Szabo let Russia’s Natalya Gorelova set the pace, then swept into the lead on the final turn and pulled away to win in 4 minutes, 00.57 seconds. Her Romanian teammate, Violeta Szekely, was second and Gorelova was third.

Szabo and Szekely embraced after the race, but they are far from friends.

They sued each other earlier this year after Szabo said her compatriot was ``too ugly″ to be invited to a meet in Germany, and Szekely responded by calling Szabo ``short and hunched.″

``I congratulate Gabriela on her win, but this is not to say that I forgive her for all that happened between us,″ Szekely said.

In other finals Tuesday night, Tomas Dvorak of the Czech Republic won his third straight world title in the decathlon with 8,902 points; Fiona May of Italy took the women’s long jump at 23 feet, one-half inch, and Andre Bucher of Switzerland remained unbeaten this year by winning the men’s 800 in 1:43.70.

Also, Amy Thiam became Senegal’s first medalist at a world championships by winning the women’s 400; Derartu Tulu led an Ethiopian medal sweep in the women’s 10,000, and Yipsi Moreno of Cuba won the women’s hammer throw.

In the injury-depleted men’s 200, Americans Kevin Little and Shawn Crawford advanced to Wednesday’s semifinals. U.S. compatriot Ramon Clay pulled up in the quarterfinals with a left hamstring injury.

The 200 field has been weakened by the withdrawals of defending champion Maurice Greene, 1997 world champion Ato Boldon and 1993 world champion Frankie Fredericks.

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