Decision expected to come Tuesday

Updated: August 17, 2004, 6:15 AM ET
Associated Press

ATHENS, Greece -- U.S. sprinter Torri Edwards says she's optimistic a panel of three international arbitrators will overturn her drug suspension and allow her to run at the Olympics.

Edwards was scheduled to find out Tuesday if her appeal was successful. Suspended for two years for using a banned stimulant, she spoke on her own behalf Monday evening in a 5½-hour hearing before the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

The reigning 100-meter world champion, Edwards would be a medal contender in the 100 and 200 if she is cleared to run in Athens.

"I have to be optimistic. My main goal here is to run at the Olympic Games, and that's what I worked so hard for,'' she said after the hearing, her voice filling with emotion. "Hopefully, things will go my way.''

CAS General Secretary Matthieu Reeb said a verdict, which is final and binding, was expected Tuesday.

Emanuel Hudson, Edwards' agent and one of the two attorneys who joined her at the hearing, said he was satisfied with the hearing before arbitrators Hans Nater of Switzerland, Reiner Martens of Germany and Malcolm Holmes of Australia.

"It was a very long hearing,'' Hudson said. "We believe we got a fair hearing, in terms of the panel listening to everything we presented. Now, we're just hopeful that on Friday we can be able to run.''

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.

If the appeal is successful, Edwards will compete in the 100 preliminaries Friday. Edwards, who arrived in Athens after training with the U.S. track and field team in Crete, finished second in the 100 and third in the 200 at the U.S. Olympic trials last month.

Edwards spent six hours Monday inside a downtown Athens hotel. Also present were U.S. team leader Herman Frazier, U.S. Olympic Committee general counsel Jeff Benz and Arne Ljungqvist, the anti-doping chief of the International Association of Athletics Federations.

"We're looking for guidance on how we finalize our entries for the games,'' Benz said. "We have agreed to do whatever CAS orders.''

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

A U.S. arbitration panel that first heard the case said there might have been "exceptional circumstances.'' But an IAAF doping review board rejected that argument, relying on the "strict liability'' standard that declares athletes responsible for any banned substances found in their bodies.

If the suspension is upheld, Edwards' spot in the 100 will go to Gail Devers, who finished fourth at the U.S. trials. Her spot in the 200 would go to LaShaunte'a Moore.


Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press

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