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1994: Modahl banned for drug taking

The former 800m Commonwealth gold-medallist, Diane Modahl, has been found guilty of taking a performance enhancing drug and banned from competing for four years.

The five-strong British Athletic Federation (BAF) panel in London delivered the verdict after a two-day disciplinary hearing and upheld a positive drugs test made after a race in Portugal on 18 June.

It dismissed claims the high level of testosterone in her urine - 42 times greater than normal - was caused by mishandling in the Portuguese laboratory.

The decision makes Modahl the first British woman to have tested positive in a drugs test.

But the athlete pledged to prove her innocence.


"I have declared my innocence, I have never taken any banned substance"

Diane Modahl

"I am horrified at the decision and at the prospect of the nightmare of the last four months continuing," she said.

"I sat through the whole of yesterday's hearing. I listened to all the evidence.

"I felt sure the committee would decide there were too many doubts raised about the reliability of the test results.

Appeal option

"I have declared my innocence, I have never taken any banned substance."

Modahl, whose husband Vicente is her coach, said she would take the case to the Independent Appeal Panel.

Her defence argues there was a degradation of the urine sample taken after the Santo Antonio athletic meeting in Lisbon.

They claim the Lisbon laboratory failed to follow good practices, casting real doubt over the result.

But the BAF panel chairman, Dr Martyn Lucking, said:"Having heard all the evidence and considered all the documents, the committee was satisfied unanimously beyond all reasonable doubt that a doping offence had been committed by Mrs Modhal."

She can now appeal to a BAF board, after that she could go to an arbitration tribunal run by the International Amateur Athletic Federation, the sports' world governing body.

If that failed she could then take her case to its council.

In Context
Diane Modahl was cleared of drug taking a year later after an independent appeals panel accepted evidence bacterial activity could have increased testosterone levels while the sample was not refrigerated.

But it was not until March 1996 she was cleared to compete internationally when the IAAF also accepted the report.

That year she won the 800m bronze medal at the Commonwealth Games in Kuala Lumpur.

Modhal took the BAF to court claiming almost 1m in damages, legal and medical costs but lost at the High Court in 2000 and the Court of Appeal in 2001.

She has carved out a broadcasting career and was one of the BBC team during the 2002 Commonwealth Games in her home town of Manchester.


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