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Triathlon champ suspended for missing tests

10/13/2006

LONDON -- World triathlon champion Tim Don of Britain was suspended for three months Friday for missing three out-of-competition drug tests in 18 months, a violation that bars him from the Olympics.

Don attributed the missed tests to "forgetfulness and lack of
understanding" of the online system used by British athletes to
list their whereabouts for drug testing. British Triathlon, which
imposed the suspension, said Don was not suspected of doping or
trying to avoid testing.

"He has been a strong advocate of drug-free sport throughout
his career, and has been tested on nine separate occasions this
year, with no adverse findings," said Norman Brook, chief
executive of British Triathlon.

Don will be banned from future Olympics under British Olympic
Association bylaws that call for life suspensions to drug offenders
representing their country. Don said he would not appeal the
three-month suspension, but he can appeal the rule keeping him from
the Olympics.

"I have never taken, or even considered taking, a
performance-enhancing drug in my life, and I am absolutely
devastated to receive a suspension for contravening anti-doping
regulations," he said in a statement.

Don won the world title in Lausanne, Switzerland, on Sept. 3. He
finished 10th at the 2000 Sydney Olympics and 18th in Athens four
years later.

Don said the Internet system used by UK Sport for athletes to
inform drug testers of their whereabouts had been difficult to
understand.

"I fully understand that it is my responsibility as a
professional athlete to log my whereabouts on the UK Sport system
and accept that it is due to my forgetfulness and lack of
understanding of the online system following its launch last year
that I have received this ban," Don said.

Don said on two occasions he was traveling to meets overseas and
didn't change his location details. He said on the third occasion,
his competition was delayed and he missed the hour window for
testing.

Don is the second athlete to be punished by new British doping
regulations introduced last year -- three missed tests over 18
months constitutes a violation.

British runner Christine Ohuruogu was banned for a year on Sept.
15 for missing three tests and has appealed to the Court of
Arbitration for Sport.