Sprinter may compete in Athens after guilty finding

Updated: July 23, 2004, 5:43 PM ET
Associated Press

U.S. sprinter Torri Edwards was found guilty of using a banned stimulant but may be able to avoid a suspension -- and keep her spot in the Olympics -- because of "exceptional circumstances."

A three-member arbitration panel, which heard Edwards' case last week, determined that "exceptional circumstances" may exist in her case, the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency announced Friday.

The arbitrators referred the case to a doping review board of the International Association of Athletics Federations, which will decide whether to impose a suspension of up to two years.

IAAF spokesman Nick Davies could not be reached for comment Friday on a time frame for a decision in the Edwards case, but USADA officials said they expect a decision before next month's Athens Olympics, where Edwards is expected to contend for a medal in the 100 and 200 meters.

"I am relieved that this phase has been completed," Edwards said in a statement posted on the Web site of her track club, HSInternational. "I have faith that the IAAF panel will review my case fairly and with an unprejudiced mind."

Edwards, an outspoken supporter of U.S. anti-drug efforts in track and field, blamed her positive test on a glucose supplement and said she did not know it contained the stimulant nikethamide.

She flunked the drug test at a meet in Fort-de-France, Martinique, on April 24. Her physician bought the glucose at a store there, Edwards said.

Edwards finished second in the 100 and third in the 200 at the U.S. Olympic trials earlier this month.

If she is suspended and forced to miss the Athens Olympics, LaShaunte'a Moore would take the third place in the 200 and Gail Devers, the fourth-place finisher in the 100, would be entitled to a spot in that event. But if Devers decides to focus on the 100-meter hurdles, in which she is the U.S. champion, that place in the 100 would go to fifth-place finisher Marion Jones -- the defending Olympic champion who is under investigation by USADA but has not been formally charged.

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press