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Wednesday, August 18, 1999 Published at 13:28 GMT 14:28 UK


Ottey out after positive test

Ottey: Former champion says test is terrible mistake

Former world 200m champion Merlene Ottey has pulled out of the world athletics championships after failing a dope test.

The BBC's James Helm reports
In a statement issued on Wednesday, the Jamaican said there had been a "terrible mistake".

She added that she would have a voluntary test done immediately.

The 39-year-old sprinter tested positive for nandrolone at the grand prix meeting in Lucerne on 5 July.

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The drug is the same steroid as that which Linford Christie, also 39, tested positive for earlier this year.

British runner Doug Walker has also fallen foul of the controversial substance, which has seen an increased number of positive tests across sport in the past 12 months.


[ image: Christie also tested positive for nandrolone]
Christie also tested positive for nandrolone
"To write this statement has been the most difficult and emotionally draining experience of my life," said Ottey in the document released by her agents, FKG Communications.

Madrid correspondent Daniel Schweimler reports from Spain
"I have lived my personal and athletic life with the utmost honesty and integrity.

"I have applied only the highest ethical standards to myself and expect the same from others. I have always proclaimed fairness in sports and adamantly oppose the use of banned substances.

"I owe it to my family, my country, my beloved sport and all my fans around the world to prove that this is a terrible mistake and that I will do everything in my power to find the truth and prove my innocence."

FKG said Ottey was yet to receive detailed information about the test results, and the second B-sampl has not yet been tested.

Ottey's agent Daniel Zimmerman: She will fight to clear name
Ottey has been tested approximately 100 times since 1979, said FKG, and all results were negative.

IAAF general secretary, Istvan Gyulai, said he was informed of the test a couple of days ago.

"It was a personal shock," he said, adding that it was in the best interests of the championships that Ottey withdrew.

Travesty claim

Herb Elliott, a Jamaican delegate at the IAAF Congress, first heard of Ottey's test from the media and was very upset.

"This is a travesty of justice. In every lab, you are supposed to protect the interests of the athlete until the procedure has been completed," he said, referring to the B-sample.

"There is nothing official yet. We know the tests are not completed. We have not been notified officially.

"The normal procedure is the athlete has the right to a hearing and the B-sample is tested. As far as we know, this has not happened yet."

Despite these misgivings Elliott agreed with Ottey's decision to pull out: "She will withdraw because she is a proud woman.

"This is a shock for all of us. I have known her since she was seven. I have never known her to be on any substance."

Illustrious career

Ottey is the most successful athlete in the history of the world championships, having won 14 medals, including six golds.

She has also won 20 medals at other major international championships, including seven in the Olympics.

The Jamaican competed at the 1980 Moscow Olympics and was intending to mark two decades at the top by running in the 2000 Sydney Games at the age 40.

She was designated a roving ambassador by her country's government after the 1993 season.

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