Edwards still training to run in Athens

Updated: August 9, 2004, 12:27 PM ET
Associated Press

GIORGIOUPOLI, Greece -- Sprinter Torri Edwards plans to appeal any drug suspension she receives in a final attempt to salvage her spot on the U.S. Olympic team.

"I said, 'Fight, because it makes your spirit strong,' " her coach, John Smith, told The Associated Press on Monday. "She said, 'I have no choice.' Good, I like that."

Edwards and Smith are in Crete at the U.S. track and field training camp for the Athens Games, which begin Friday.

"It's just very frustrating," she said quietly.

Edwards, who made the U.S. team in the 100 and 200 meters, almost certainly will be suspended from the sport for two years after testing positive for a banned stimulant at a meet in Martinique in April. She said she didn't know the drug was in a glucose supplement she took because she wasn't feeling well.

That suspension is expected this week from the American Arbitration Association panel that initially heard her case. She can appeal to the international Court of Arbitration for Sport, whose decision is binding.

Edwards, sitting alone at lunch at the seaside resort where the U.S. camp is headquartered, refused to talk about the case.

The world champion in the 100 meters, Edwards is working out under Smith's direction, a sign she has not given up on the Olympics. When asked about it, she said, with a hint of sarcasm, "Yeah, I'm working out for my health."

Later, she and Smith spoke in the resort's lobby.

"I said, 'We're not going down like this,' " Smith said afterward.

If Edwards is barred from the Olympics, it could open the way for Marion Jones to defend her 100-meter gold medal. Gail Devers, fourth at the U.S. trials, is next in line to make the U.S. team. But if Devers decides instead to concentrate on the 100-meter hurdles, then Jones would make the team because she was fifth at the trials.

The U.S. arbitration panel had found that there may be exceptional circumstances in the case that would warrant a lesser penalty, perhaps only a warning. But a review board of the International Association of Athletics Federations, the sport's governing body, decided otherwise and sent the matter back to U.S. authorities to hand down the penalty.

Under IAAF rules, if there are no exceptional circumstances, the offense carries a minimum two-year ban.

Edwards' track club, HSInternational, issued a statement on its Web site Sunday saying it was unfair that Edwards faces the same penalty given to U.S. sprinter Kelli White, who acknowledged using a variety of performance-enhancing drugs.

Edwards remains on the U.S. team pending an official ruling by the arbitration panel, then she can appeal. A CAS hearing could be set up on short notice in Athens. Running events begin Aug. 20.

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press