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Crucial hearing for American sprinter

8/14/2004

ATHENS, Greece -- U.S. sprinter Torri Edwards' appeal
against her two-year drug ban will be heard Monday by the Court of
Arbitration for Sport. The result will determine whether the
reigning world champion in the 100 meters competes at the Athens
Games.

CAS secretary-general Matthieu Reeb said he received the appeal
documents Saturday and notified the parties to appear at a hearing
Monday evening. A decision is expected Tuesday, he said.

A medal contender in the 100 and 200 meters, Edwards has been
training with the U.S. team in Crete and may attend the hearing.

"It seems so, but there is no confirmation yet," Reeb told The
Associated Press.

Edwards finished second in the 100 and third in the 200 at the
U.S. Olympic trials last month. Olympic track events begin Friday.

Edwards tested positive for the stimulant nikethamide at a meet
in Martinique in April, blaming the result on a glucose supplement she took
because she wasn't feeling well. She said she was unaware it contained the banned substance, and that her physician bought the glucose at a store on the Caribbean island.

Edwards' two-year suspension was announced Wednesday by the U.S.
Anti-Doping Agency.

A U.S. arbitration panel that first heard her case said there
might have been "exceptional circumstances" in Edwards' case. But
the International Association of Athletics Federations rejected
that argument, relying on the "strict liability" standard that
declares athletes responsible for any banned substances found in
their bodies.

Reeb said Edwards' appeal asks the panel to restore her results
from the U.S. trials and lift the two-year penalty, or have it
reduced to time already served so she can compete in Athens.

Unless the suspension is overturned, Edwards' Olympic spot in
the 100 will go to Gail Devers, who finished fourth at the U.S.
trials.

The case will be heard by a three-member panel headed by Swiss
arbitrator Hans Nater. The other members are Dirk-Reiner Martens of
Germany and Malcolm Holmes of Australia.