US Olympic team facing bans

SAN JOSE, California (AFP) – American sprint star Kelli White will not take part in the Athens Olympics after accepting a two-year ban following a positive drug test, the San Jose Mercury News reported on Tuesday. The 27-year-old White could be the first of a host of American athletes, who have been linked to the controversial Balco laboratories, forced to withdraw from the Olympics, the newspaper said. White could not be reached for comment. The Mercury News said two sources told them the US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) planned to announce White’s fate late yesterday. Officials from USADA refused to comment. «USADA wants to create a domino effect so others fall. It will have implications at the Olympics and beyond,» the newspaper quoted a source as saying. White’s coach Remi Korchemny said White had a knee injury and would not be competing in an international meet this weekend in Mexico. He said White’s participation in the Olympic trials was in doubt because of the injury. Korchemny is one of four San Francisco-area men indicted on charges of giving performance-enhancing drugs to American athletes. «I’m not sure that she can run at the Olympic trials. She can’t accelerate. It is impossible to run on that knee and constantly experience pain,» Korchemny said. In April, the Mercury News reported that White, Marion Jones, Tim Montgomery and nine other American track and field athletes received the designer steroid THG from Balco owner Victor Conte, according to a report prepared by an Internal Revenue Service investigator. Conte denied the accusations and has questioned the reliability of the IRS report. White won both the 100-meter and 200-meter titles at the 2003 US national championships in Stanford. In August 2003, White became the first American woman to win both sprints at a world championships in Paris. She tested positive for the drug modafinil, which she claimed she needed to treat a sleeping disorder. Meanwhile, lawyers for US track and field stars are meeting in New York this week with officials of the USADA, The New York Times reported on Tuesday. The USADA is expected to show the lawyers what evidence they have on athletes’ use of banned performance-enhancing drugs. USADA recently convinced a federal Senate Commerce Committee to turn over the evidence to them. The anti-doping officials are trying to negotiate a settlement, or «plea bargain,» with the athletes, the newspaper said. In another setback for the US team, former two-time Turkish champion Faruk Sahin, now a US citizen and member of the US army, has accepted a provisional ban from competition following a positive drug test, USA Wrestling said on Tuesday. The 28-year-old Sahin tested positive for a banned stimulant at last month’s US Wrestling Championships. «We have never had a drug test like this before for a champion at the national trials,» said USA Wrestling spokesman Gary Abbott. Sahin won the 66 kilogram (145.5 pound) Greco-Roman title at the nationals in Las Vegas. The suspension means he will not be allowed to compete at this weekend’s US Olympic Team Trials and will most likely be out of the Olympics as well. Sahin’s place at the Olympic qualifying tournament will be taken by another US Army member Oscar Wood, who finished second to Sahin. The US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) said Sahin tested positive for phentermine, a prohibited stimulant under the rules of the Federation Internationale des Luttes Associees (FILA), which is the international governing body for wrestling. Sahin joined the US Army in November and attained US citizenship in February. He was the No. 1 seed in his division at the US Olympic trials. Sahin had hoped to make the Olympic team so he could compete in Athens in front of his family, which still lives in Turkey.

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