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  Friday, 6 September, 2002, 16:44 GMT 17:44 UK
Baxter takes a gamble
Baxter is battling to get his bronze medal back
Baxter is battling to get his bronze medal back

Alain Baxter can now get back to doing what he loves best - skiing.

Britain's top slalom specialist has had to take two days out of his hectic pre-season schedule to give evidence at a Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) tribunal in an attempt to get his Olympic bronze medal back.

But he has now flown to Switzerland, where he will join up with the rest of the British ski team, for a nine-day session on the snow at Saas Fee.

Baxter said he was relieved the tribunal was over. But he will have to wait until the start of October to hear his fate.


The so-called scientific position of the IOC is totally untenable
Arnold Beckett

He said: "I would like to thank all those who have supported me in making my case to CAS.

"I believe my team made the best possible presentation of my case."

The 28-year-old, from Scotland, was challenging the International Olympic Committee's strict liability rule.

The rule states an athlete is responsible for whatever is in his/her system and if a banned substance is found, the IOC will strip a medallist of their prize.

Baxter at his appeal hearing
Baxter at his appeal hearing
Baxter argued in his case that the positive urine test after his medal-winning slalom at the Salt Lake City Games was the result of using a Vicks inhaler.

It contained lev-methamphetamine, which his scientific team said was entirely different to the banned methamphetamine - as the lev-type was not performance-enhancing.

But the International Olympic Committee does not differentiate between the two types of the drug, although many sporting associations - including the United States doping agency - do.

Professor Arnold Beckett, who was on the IOC medical commission for 25 years and has been helping Baxter prepare his case, said it was wrong for the IOC not to carry out the split-isomer test.

He told BBC Sport Online: "The so-called scientific position of the IOC is totally untenable. In this case it is complete scientific nonsense.

"Alain Baxter's case is based upon scientific facts not politics and opinions."


Bringing a case like this is very expensive indeed
John Clark

The IOC used a very odd example in the tribunal to highlight it would be possible for a Vicks inhaler to be considered performance-enhancing.

They cited a case in which a cross-dresser had enhanced his sexual performance by smashing into eight Vicks inhalers and drinking their contents!

Baxter's legal representative Michael Belloff said: "We seem to be travelling a long way from an athlete using an inhaler to clear his nose before skiing down the slopes of Salt Lake City."

The odds are stacked against Baxter but whatever the outcome the skier hopes to change the way in which athletes are dealt with.

Appeal co-ordinator John Clark told BBC Sport Online: "We want to change people's perception.

"At the moment, if an athlete fails a drugs test, the public automatically thinks he is guilty. This is wrong."

Large shortfall

And Baxter is taking on this case at great personal cost to himself.

Although the BOA and BSSF are supporting Baxter, he is not receiving any financial help from them.

A fighting fund was set up to help pay for the case but the tribunal has run into thousands of pounds.

Clark said: "Everyone has been great supporting Alain but I am afraid there will be quite a large shortfall. Bringing a case like this is very expensive indeed."

But if Baxter does win his case - and Britain's first ever ski medal is returned - it will be money well spent.

Alain Baxter appeal

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