LISBON, Portugal (AP) _ British runner Mark Richardson's bid for early reinstatement from a drug suspension was rejected Tuesday by the governing body of track and field.

The International Amateur Athletic Federation also referred the drug case of Romanian hammer thrower Mihaela Melinte to arbitration at an undetermined date. Melinte, the women's world outdoor champion and world record-holder, would face a two-year ban if found guilty.

Melinte, the Olympic gold medal favorite, was pulled off the field at the Sydney Games in September minutes before the start of qualifying. The IAAF blocked her from competing because she had tested positive for the steroid nandrolone at a meet in Milan, Italy, on June 7.

Richardson, the former British 400-meter champion, tested positive for nandrolone in October 1999. He was cleared by UK Athletics in July, but the IAAF declined to accept the ruling by the national body and ordered Richardson to an arbitration hearing.

The hearing was set to take place in Sydney on the eve of the Olympics, but was put off after Richardson withdrew from the British team.

On Tuesday, the IAAF said Richardson had decided to withdraw from the arbitration process and accept a two-year suspension.

``Council also considered, but did not accept, a request for early reinstatement for Richardson presented by UK Athletics,'' the IAAF said.

However, the IAAF said it welcomed a UK Athletics proposal for Richardson to lead an educational program warning athletes about the dangers of contaminated food supplements.

The IAAF said it would reconsider Richardson's early reinstatement at a later date.

Richardson has denied knowingly taking banned substances and blamed the adverse findings on nutritional supplements.

Under the IAAF's ``strict liability'' rule, athletes are held responsible for banned substances found in their bodies regardless of how they got there.