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Thursday, 21 March, 2002, 18:57 GMT

Baxter's heartbreak

Alain Baxter talks to BBC Sport Online's Anna Thompson after being stripped of his Olympic bronze medal.

For three days Alain Baxter was having the time of his life.

He had just returned to Scotland after winning Britain's first ever Olympic ski medal, was being lauded as a Scottish hero and the sponsorship deals were flooding in.

But his world dramatically fell apart when he received a phone call at 5pm on 1 March at his home in Aviemore from British Olympic Association chief executive Simon Clegg.

"I had been having the best time in my life - then suddenly I had my heart ripped out"
Alain Baxter

A 20-millionth of a gram, a nanogram, of banned substance methamphetamine had been found in his post-race urine sample.

Baxter, looking drawn and without his now trademark blue hair, told BBC Sport Online: "I couldn't believe it.

"I said: 'You're joking me?' to Simon but obviously he wasn't.

"I had been having the best time in my life. Then suddenly I had my heart ripped out."

As Baxter tried to come to terms with the implications it was decided it would be better for the 28-year-old to escape the media spotlight.

And he did - to Norway staying with friends.

"I didn't think to check the packet - I wish I had done now"
Alain Baxter

He was able to carry on with his fitness training and managed a little skiing too.

Baxter said: "When I was away I could speak to my mum and she told me about the huge support back home.

"The newspapers were pretty positive on the whole although I was horrified when they kept on referring to methamphetamine as speed."

All the time though, his mind was on the positive test and the culprit - a Vicks inhaler.

He said: "I've been using a Vicks inhaler since I was a boy so it didn't occur to me that one I bought in America would have different ingredients in it and a banned substance.

"When I bought it in Salt Lake City, I didn't think to check the packet. I wish I had done now."

The slalom specialist, nicknamed the Highlander, admits it was his mistake but believes the International Olympic Committee should seriously consider changing the strict liability rule.

"It's not about the medal anymore - my ski career is on the line"
Alain Baxter

He said: "The IOC should allow the split test which would prove the type of methamphetamine in my sample was not performance enhancing."

Now Baxter has got to get on with his life, his ski career and is considering appealing to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

Baxter added: "It's not about the medal anymore. My ski career is on the line.

"I know I won the bronze and no-one can take that memory away from me.

"More important to me now is my reputation and I fully intend to continue my career with my head held high."

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