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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

IAAF Reverses Hard-Line Drug Policy

CAPE TOWN, South Africa -- Reversing a previously stubborn policy, the International Amateur Athletic Federation has decided to drop a doping case against British 800-meter specialist Diane Modahl.


The decision announced by IAAF Secretary General Istvan Gyulai means Modahl -- a former Commonwealth 800 meters champion -- can compete at the Atlanta Olympics if she qualifies for the British team.


On Monday, the IAAF debated for 90 minutes whether to seek arbitration in the Modahl case or drop the matter. The decision represented a sharp shift from previous IAAF stances against efforts by other athletes, including American Butch Reynolds and German Katrin Krabbe, to get drug bans lifted.


Gyulai said the IAAF had "grave concern'' about the way drug testing on Modahl was done at a meet in Portugal in 1994.


"Until now, we sort of blindly followed the message from these laboratories,'' he said. "The message from this [case] is that this should not be so. There should be double or triple checks.''


Speaking to the British Broadcasting Corp. from her training base in the United States, Modahl said she was "absolutely delighted'' with the outcome.


"I am very angry that it happened in the first place,'' she said. "I have fought for this for just over 20 months. Now both the IAAF and BAF have accepted my innocence."


Modahl tested positive for 42 times the legal amount of testosterone. But the results were not sent to the British Athletic Federation until more than nine weeks later, when Modahl was about to defend her Commonwealth Games 800-meters title in Victoria, Canada. She was withdrawn from the race and sent home.


The BAF and IAAF then banned her, but Modahl protested the urine samples had been contaminated at the laboratory in Lisbon and that testing procedures were flawed.


Last year, a BAF appeals committee lifted its ban based on new evidence of possible irregularities in the drug testing, but the IAAF questioned the validity of the new evidence.


Modahl is currently training in Albuquerque, New Mexico, with her husband and coach, Vicente, in hopes of making the Olympic team for Atlanta.


She also has filed suit against the BAF seeking ?480,000 ($720,000) in compensation. The IAAF council also looked at problems in enforcing four-year bans against athletes in doping cases, Gyulai said.


In Austria, Russia and Germany, court rulings have thrown out four-year bans imposed by the IAAF on grounds they were illegal for denying a person's right to work. The Modahl case differed because she challenged the validity of the drug testing.