American says she will appeal two-year ban

Updated: August 11, 2004, 3:24 PM ET
Associated Press

GEORGIOUPOLI, Greece -- Torri Edwards' two-year doping suspension cleared the way for 37-year-old Gail Devers to try to win her third gold medal in the 100 meters.

Of course, that means defending champion Marion Jones gets left out of the event at the Athens Games.

Just another day of drama Wednesday on the U.S. track and field team.

Edwards appealed to the international Court of Arbitration for Sport, where a binding decision should come before the track competition begins on Aug. 20. Her chances are not good.

"I really want some time to myself right now," Edwards said at the Crete resort where the team is training. As she walked away, she nodded and smiled when asked if she was taking her case to the CAS.

Edwards' suspension for taking a banned stimulant elevated Devers, a five-time Olympian, into the 100 because she finished fourth at the U.S. trials last month.

There had been speculation Devers would turn down a spot in the 100 in order to concentrate on the 100-meter hurdles, a decision that would have let Jones -- fifth at the trials -- defend her gold medal from the Sydney Games.

Devers ended that idea, telling U.S. women's coach Sue Humphrey of her decision.

"Gail has told me that she will run the 100 meters and has adjusted her travel to do that," Humphrey said.

Devers is a two-time gold medalist in the 100, but she has never won an Olympic medal in the hurdles despite holding three world titles. If she reaches the final in both events, Devers will have run six races in the first five days of the track competition.

"I think Gail Devers is a physical specimen that is kind of like a fine-tuned machine," Humphrey said. "She takes good care of her body. She knows how to read herself. If she says she can do something, then I believe she can do it because she knows her body better than anybody else."

Edwards was a medal contender in the 100 and 200. She is the reigning world champion in the 100 and finished second in that event at the trials. The two-year suspension was the minimum she faced after a review board of the International Association of Athletics Federations ruled there were no "exceptional circumstances" that warranted a lesser penalty.

Devers' decision leaves Jones, winner of an unprecedented five Olympic medals four years ago, qualified only in the long jump for Athens. However, she is working out with the U.S. 400-meter relay team and would be one of its six members if the decision had to be made now, Humphrey said.

"Every day, she looks sharper and sharper," she said. "She's been with us through the relay camp and she's here. She's been doing everything we've asked of her as a relay component and taken care of all her own event preparation for the long jump, too."

Jones hasn't been seen much in Crete and has sent word she will not speak with reporters before the Olympics.

She is under investigation by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency but has not been charged. She has vehemently denied ever taking performance-enhancing drugs.

Humphrey said she has talked to USA Track & Field officials about whether there is a risk of losing medals after the Olympics if Jones runs in the relay and later gets suspended for doping.

"At this time, no one's given me any concrete reason why not to consider her," Humphrey said.

Edwards' spot in the 200 will go to LaShaunte'a Moore, who was fourth at the trials. Moore had been in the relay pool, so that spot becomes vacant and can be filled by another sprinter.

Edwards tested positive at a meet in Martinique in April, but she blamed a glucose supplement she took because she wasn't feeling well. She said she was unaware it contained the stimulant nikethamide, and that her physician bought the glucose at a store there. She has since fired the physician.

In its ruling, the IAAF relied on the "strict liability" standard in track and field doping cases that declares athletes are responsible for anything in their bodies -- no matter how it got there.

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press