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Medal Kept Despite Drug Test

By STEPHEN WILSON
AP Sports Writer
Wednesday, July 24, 1996 8:49 pm EDT

ATLANTA (AP) -- A Cuban athlete will keep her silver medal in judo even though she tested positive for a banned drug.

In the first drug-related case reported during the Atlanta Games, Estela Rodriguez Villaneva received only a reprimand Wednesday for using furosemide, a diuretic.

``It is not considered a doping case,'' International Olympic Committee spokeswoman Michele Verdier said. ``The athlete should have told the doctor of the Cuban team she was taking that drug.''

The IOC said Rodriguez will not lose the silver medal she won in judo's heavyweight class Saturday.

``It was strictly a reprimand,'' IOC director general Francois Carrard said. ``The medal stands.''

Diuretics are prescribed for slimming but also are widely believed to be used to hide the presence of steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs.

``The IOC medical commission took into account the fact that diuretics could not provide any kind of advantage in this kind of competition,'' Carrard said. ``There also is no indication the product could be used as a masking agent.''

The medical commission announced its decision after hearing the athlete and representatives of the Cuban national Olympic committee and the international judo federation.

Carrard said the Cuban delegation explained that Rodriguez took an herbal remedy in Cuba on July 12 without knowing it contained the banned substance.

Rodriguez, a 28-year-old physiotherapist, finished second behind China's Sun Fuming in the final. She also was a silver medalist at the 1992 Barcelona Games and was world champion in 1989.

Carrard said 200 drug tests had been carried during the first three days of competition. The three medalists in each event are tested, plus a fourth athlete chosen at random.

Two track and field athletes will learn Thursday whether they will be banned from the games over positive drug tests two months ago.

The council of the International Amateur Athletic Federation will rule on cases involving Australian sprinter Dean Capobianco and Italian high jumper Antonella Bevilacqua.

Capobianco tested positive for steroids at a meet in the Netherlands in May. An Australian tribunal last week cleared the runner, citing possible flaws in the drug-testing procedures.

Bevilacqua twice tested positive for the banned stimulant ephedrine in May. The Italian national federation backed her defense that she took the substance unwittingly in a Chinese herbal product.

IAAF rules mandate a four-year ban for steroid use and a three-month ban for stimulants.

IAAF spokesman Georgio Reineri said the 27-member council has two options: submit the cases to arbitration or ban the athletes under ``exceptional circumstances.''

If the council decides for arbitration, the hearings won't be held until after the Olympics and the athletes will be free to compete in Atlanta.

If the athletes are found guilty and suspended after the games, their Olympic results would be wiped off the books retroactively.

Earlier this week, IOC president Juan Antonio Samaranch said the Olympic body would accept whatever the IAAF decides.

© Copyright 1996 The Associated Press

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