-- U.S. sprinter Torri Edwards Wednesday received a two-year ban for a positive test for a stimulant and will lose her place on the U.S. Olympic team unless an appeal overturns the decision, the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency announced.
Edwards, 27, who had qualified to run in the Olympic 100 and 200 meters, is appealing the ban to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, which is expected to hear the case in the coming days. A lengthy statement condemning the decision appeared on the Web site of HSI, her management group.
"We are, at best, disappointed, and at worst, cynical, about the ruling which took place in Torri's matter," said the statement on www.hsi.net.
A three-person American Arbitration Association panel rejected Edwards's contention that special circumstances led to her positive test, which came during an April 24 meet in Martinique. Edwards said she inadvertently consumed the stimulant nikethamide in what she believed were glucose pills given to her by her physiotherapist.
The arbitration panel followed the directive of the world governing body of track and field (IAAF), which stated that Edwards should be subject to the mandatory two-year ban. Had Edwards committed the violation before the new World Anti-Doping Code was enacted by the IAAF on March 1, she would have received only a public warning.
Her penalty is the same recently levied upon Kelli White, who tested positive for a stimulant last year and acknowledged using a host of steroids and other banned drugs in connection with the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative (BALCO) scandal. White, whose ban was enacted this spring, also received the right to apply for early reinstatement, which is not an option for Edwards.
"Charging her with the harshest punishment that has ever been given to any athlete, in any sport, for this type of violation, surely points to this case not being decided on its merits, but one decided upon based on politics and prejudice," the statement said. " . . . Torri Edwards is being treated worse than other athletes who have clearly committed violations and acts that intentionally circumvent the IAAF and WADA codes."
Edwards's suspension took effect July 18 and she loses all of her competitive results from the date of her test, including her first-place finishes in 100 and 200 meter events in Martinique and first place in the 100 meters and third place in the 200 meters at the July U.S. Olympic Trials in Sacramento, USADA announced.
The world champion in the 100, Edwards will be replaced by Gail Devers in the 100 and LaShaunta'e Moore in the 200. Devers and Moore finished in fourth place in those events.
Devers informed U.S. Olympic coach Sue Humphrey she would accept the 100 slot, even though she also intends to compete in the 100 hurdles, according to USA Track and Field spokesperson Jill Geer. If Devers had declined the position, it would have been awarded to reigning Olympic champion Marion Jones, who finished fifth and has said she would welcome the opening.