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BBC World Service's Mike Costello
reports that Merlene Ottey is now the "target of angry protests"
 real 14k

Monday, 18 September, 2000, 10:47 GMT 11:47 UK
Jamaicans protest against Ottey
Merlene Ottey
Ottey has never won an Olympic gold medal
Members of the Jamaican athletics team have staged a protest against Merlene Ottey's participation in her sixth Olympic Games.

Several Jamaican runners threatened on Monday to boycott their relay events because Ottey has been added to the team.

But Don Anderson, head of the Jamaican Olympic delegation, said that he had met later with the protesters and considered the matter resolved.

He said the protesters had agreed not to boycott the relays, and no changes were made in the team.

But he admitted that the protest, in the Olympic Village, has proved an embarrassment.

"We are quite disturbed about it," Anderson said. "We're quite disappointed about it. We're embarrassed about it."

Placards

The protesters were objecting to 40-year-old Ottey's inclusion in the 100m at the expense of Peta-Gaye Dowdie, who beat Ottey in the Jamaican trials.

They carried placards reading "Merlene Out, Peta-Gaye in. No relays."

"We don't think it's fair. If it happens, we are not going to run in our relays," said Danny McFarlane, a 400m runner.

The Jamaican men's team is among the favourites for gold in the 1,600 relay, along with the United States, and Jamaican women are expected to challenge the United States for gold in the 400m relay.

Merlene Ottey
Ottey has found herself ostracised by her team

McFarlane and the other protesters sat in a semi-circle at the international zone, where athletes can meet with visitors. Then they walked around the village area, holding the protest placards.

"This year my goal has been to be in my sixth Olympics," Ottey said after the protest. "It's been quite a fight. I have to wait to see if Jamaica will let me in the 100."

Ottey, whose failure to win an Olympic gold medal is the one omission of a glittering career, did not qualify via the trials, finishing only fourth.

But her build-up had been hampered by a one-year ban for testing positive for the anabolic steroid nandrolone, which was subsequently lifted.

She turned up the heat on Jamaican officials to add her to the team when she won the 100m at the Gold Coast Meet near Brisbane in a wind-assisted 10.91 seconds on 10 September.

Cleared of charges

She arrived in Sydney on Sunday and has been working out with the team.

"She looks very good," Anderson said.

The Jamaican Amateur Athletic Association cleared Ottey of the drug charges within months, but the International Amateur Athletic Federation sent Ottey's case to arbitrators.

On July 3, the IAAF lifted the ban after concluding the Swiss laboratory improperly tested Ottey's urine sample.

Scientists at the Swiss laboratory vehemently defended their tests as accurate and protested the IAAF decision.

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See also:

17 Sep 00 |  Athletics-Track
Legend Ottey in late surge
10 Sep 00 |  Athletics-Track
Ottey's Olympic reminder
14 Aug 00 |  Athletics-Track
Ottey wants 100m place
15 Aug 00 |  Athletics-Track
Ottey faces anxious wait
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