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American says she will appeal two-year ban

8/11/2004

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.