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Wednesday, August 18, 1999 Published at 11:33 GMT 12:33 UK

Warning as athletics chief re-elected

Nebiolo: Not universally popular, but still in charge

Primo Nebiolo has been re-elected as head of world athletics' governing body, amid fears about his own health and that of the sport.

The controversial 76-year-old was unopposed for the presidency of the the International Amateur Athletic Federation (IAAF) in Seville, where the world championships begin on Friday.

Competitors arriving in Spain have been warned that doping will not be tolerated at the event.

"This is a great moment for me," said Nebiolo, who has been in charge of the IAAF for 18 years.

"I will strive to live up to your expectations," he told delegates.

Cancer rumour

The Italian was re-elected after denying persistent rumours of prostate cancer.

"Maybe he looks tired, but his brain is working perfectly," said IAAF spokesman, Giorgio Reineri.

The world championships have been one of Nebiolo's many innovations as the sport has grown into a multi-million dollar business.

[ image: Walker: Case has divided IAAF and UK Athletics]
Walker: Case has divided IAAF and UK Athletics
But the elderly president has been called dictatorial, scheming and money grabbing.

He also recently angered UK Athletics chief Dave Moorcroft by commenting former Olympic champion Linford Christie's positive drugs test while the case was still being investigated.

The doping issue has dominated the run-up to the Seville championships, with the IAAF stepping in to investigate British runner Doug Walker's positive nandrolene test despite the UK body clearing the Scot.

News of Christie's test came alongside a ban for Olympic bronze medalist Dennis Mitchell.

Jayasinghe asks for move

There is also controversy over Sri Lankan sprinter Susanthika Jayasinghe's involvement in Seville.

The 200m world silver medallist's failed steroid test is being considered by an arbitration panel.

But she has now reportedly asked the organisers to provide her with accommodation outside the games village in Seville, so that her food is not spiked by fellow Sri lankan athletes.

"Jayasinghe has refused to reside along with the rest of the Sri Lankan team taking part in the championships saying that she could not trust the Sri Lankan officials," said press reports.

Jayasinghe has also accused local officials of sexually harassing her and attempting to ruin her athletic career.


Fifty drugs tests a day are planned for Seville, and the IAAF's newly-elected vice-president and medical expert Dr Arne Ljungqvist says enforcement is fast catching up with the cheats.

"Athletes think they can take things and not get caught. They are wrong," he said.

"They think they are steps ahead of us. They are not - we are closing the gap."

And Ljungqvist warned that ignorance or unwittingly ingesting an illegal substance was not an excuse.

"An athlete is responsible for what he takes," he warned.

"If I like mushrooms and go out picking them I had better know which ones are poisonous and which ones are not."

Greene and the snatcher

[ image: Greene at his hotel after catching bag-snatcher]
Greene at his hotel after catching bag-snatcher
Amid the rather gloomy build-up, there was some good news as athletes gathered in the Spanish city.

World 100m record-holder Maurice Greene has already won one race, catching a luggage thief at Seville airport on Tuesday.

Greene was being interviewed by Spanish television when hurdler Larry Wade spotted someone walking away with one of Wade's bags.

The pair were straight out of the blocks and caught the thief.

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In this section

Athletics saves face

Brits sprint to relay silver

Injury wrecks Backley medal bid

Wembley to host athletics showpiece

Red leader powers Korean runner to gold

Seville winners: Final day

Red-faced relay runners crash out

Devers wins, but Engqvist earns plaudits

Anton is home hero

Greene flies to historic double

Miller makes it gold

Johnson smashes 400m record

Radcliffe wins silver in 10,000 metres

Heat is on in Seville

Michael Johnson: Life in the fast lane

Jackson hurdles to gold

Magnificent Macey snatches silver

Devastated Edwards gets bronze

A sprint too far for Jones

Colin Jackson: Britain's golden boy

Dean Macey: The great unknown

El Guerrouj stuns Seville

Hansen flops in triple jump

Two disqualified over drugs

May quits after medals row

Injury wrecks Smith's medal dream

Jones fails in four-gold attempt

Lewis takes heptathlon silver