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Friday, 18 October, 2002, 17:17 GMT 18:17 UK

Baxter hails moral victory

By Anna Thompson
Winter sports editor

British skier Alain Baxter said his reputation remained intact despite losing his Olympic bronze medal for failing a drugs test.

The Court of Arbitration for Sport upheld the International Olympic Committee's original decision to strip him of the medal because of the IOC's strict liability rule.

"I'm not classed as a drugs cheat anymore"
Alain Baxter

In its judgement CAS said Baxter was a "sincere and honest man who did not gain a competitive advantage despite the trace of lev-methamphetamine in his system."

And the Scottish skier said he was pleased his name had been cleared.

The 28-year-old said: "I'm not classed as a drugs cheat anymore.

"I can get back to racing in a month's time and I'm looking forward to the season."

Baxter won Britain's first ever ski medal when he finished third in the men's slalom at the 2002 Winter Olympics in February.

But he failed a post-race drugs test when 20 millionths of a gram of banned substance methamphetamine were found in his urine sample.

He was stripped of his medal by the IOC but appealed to CAS.

Rule change bid

In his appeal, he argued there were two forms of methamphetamine and his sample contained the lev isomer, which was not performance enhancing.

It had come from the American version of a Vicks nasal inhaler.

CAS agreed with him and in its summary recommended the IOC change its rule on the drug.

"We are confident that we will see him back on the international podium"
Fiona McNeilly

CAS said: "The IOC may wish at some time to distinguish between the two isomers of methamphetamine and to introduce a threshold as it has done in the case of other stimulants such as caffeine."

The bronze has now been awarded to Austria's Benjamin Raich, who finished fourth in Salt Lake City, and he told the BBC on Wednesday he would accept the medal.

Baxter has received tremendous support from the public and the ski racing community and can head to his first slalom race in Park City on 24 November with his head held high.

His sponsors have also stood by him.

On the eve of the appeal decision, Drambuie, the Scottish whisky liqueur company, announced it would continue to sponsor Baxter for the 2002-03 season.

Baxter's coach Christian Schwaiger told BBC Sport Online: "It is a shame for Alain but he will just have to prove it at another venue."

And Fiona McNeilly, operations director of Snowsport GB, believes Baxter's third place in Salt Lake City was not a fluke.

She said: "We are confident that we will see him back on the international podium."

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