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Friday, February 8, 2002
 
Appeal lands Jovanovic stiffer penalty

Associated Press


SALT LAKE CITY -- A U.S. bobsledder lost his last chance to compete in the Winter Olympics on Thursday when an appeals panel suspended him for two years for failing a drug test.

Pavle Jovanovic of Toms River, N.J., had appealed his nine-month suspension. But instead of being cleared for the Games, he drew a stiffer penalty.

Jovanovic said he unintentionally took a banned steroid in a nutritional supplement. He was to have been a key member of the two-man and four-man teams driven by Todd Hays. The teams have been considered favorites to end an American medal drought in bobsled dating to 1956.

His defense is "just not credible," said Terrence Madden, the chief executive officer of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency. "No panel is going to buy that defense any more."

Madden said Jovanovic's drug test revealed levels of 19-norandrostenedione, a muscle-building steroid, six times higher than allowed in the sport.

Jovanovic was tested Dec. 29 during the U.S. Olympic trials in Park City, where the Olympic competition will be held.

"I look forward to the day when we can tell athletes, 'You can take XYZ supplement,"' Madden said. "We can't do that now."

Jovanovic appealed the nine-month suspension of an American Arbitration Association panel to the International Court of Arbitration for Sport.

The court rejected Jovanovic's contention that he unknowingly took the banned substance and called his judgment "foolish." The court also said Jovanovic "expressed no contrition and accepted no blame."

"It's the right decision," said Dick Pound, chairman of the World Anti-Doping Agency. "It's good for sports. It's good for the Olympics."