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Wednesday, 6 March, 2002, 11:22 GMT
Support for Baxter claim
A former Olympic drug testing official has backed bronze medallist Alain Baxter's claim that he has not knowingly taken a banned substance.
Baxter tested positive for methamphetamine following his slalom bronze in Salt Lake City, and may argue that the drug was present in an inhaler.
And Professor Arnold Beckett, formerly chief drugs tester with the International Olympic Committee (IOC), claims the explanation is plausible.
The IOC operate a 'strict liability' rule towards drugs, so Baxter will not be able to defend himself with the argument that he took the substance inadvertently.
And as all competitors are aware of this before they compete, Beckett believes it unlikely that any athlete would knowingly take a banned substance.
"I don't believe someone would be as foolish as to take amphetamine at a big sport event where they would have expected to be tested - they would not do it deliberately," said Beckett.
"If the second analysis confirms it is an official positive, it would almost certainly be an inadvertent taking."
If Baxter's B sample also shows traces of the stimulant he will have to persuade Olympic officials not to strip him of his medal.
'Going through hell'
Baxter's only public comment has been a statement released through the British Olympic Association (BOA).
But Fiona McNeilly, operations director for the British Ski and Snowboard Federation (BSSF), revealed how the Scot has been coping since the news broke.
"I've spoken to him and he's going through hell but he's adamant he's innocent of any performance-enhancing offence," she said.
"He'll be doing everything he can to defend himself in front of the IOC."
McNeilly added that the BSSF and the BOA would be backing Baxter's attempt to prove his innocence.
"In a case like this only the athlete himself knows fully what's gone on, but we're working with the BOA to help him put his case together," said McNeilly.
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