SPORTS

US drug users cleared to compete in Athens

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Four US athletes who tested positive for the stimulant modafinil last year will be able to compete in the Athens Olympics in August after receiving the minimum possible sanction. Sprinter Chryste Gaines and hurdlers Sandra Glover, Eric Thomas and Chris Phillips received public warnings and disqualifications because the drug, used to treat excessive daytime sleepiness, was regarded as a minor stimulant at the time of the offenses. The US Anti-Doping Agency has yet to consider the case of double world sprint champion Kelli White, who tested positive for modafinil at the Paris World Championships last August. Gaines, Glover and Thomas, who each competed at the 2000 Sydney Olympics, tested positive at last year’s US championships, while Phillips was caught in Paris. Their results at those meetings have been erased from the record books, including Phillips’s fifth place in the 110-meter hurdles in Paris. After White’s positive test, the International Association of Athletics Federations classified modafinil, which had not previously been on the banned list, as a minor stimulant, carrying a penalty of a public warning and disqualification. However, starting from January 1 this year, the World Anti-Doping Agency has ruled that modafinil is a serious stimulant, carrying an automatic two-year ban. Another four American athletes who tested positive for the designer steroid THG (tetrahydrogestrinone) last year are still waiting for the results of their appeals to the American Arbitration Association. US shot put champion Kevin Toth, hammer thrower John McEwen, national women’s hammer champion Melissa Price and middle-distance runner Regina Jacobs tested positive for the drug at the US trials.